On Books

Chew or choke, which will it be?

Late last night I came across a tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’ve heard a lot about him. He was a magical realist. Many of my reading friends admire his writing. For myself, I haven’t had much luck with the genre. It has to do with the works of Isabelle Allende. You’ll enjoy this, a friend said, handing over a copy of Paula.

I sobbed my way through that book.

By the end I was wrung out like a sheet gone through my mother’s old wringer. At the time I had enough grief of my own without reading about Allende’s as well.

Frankly, I could have done with a lot less realism. The experience put me off the genre. (Perhaps I have been a bit unfair in my judgement, Paula is probably best described as a memoir.)

Just to be contrary, when it comes to reading, I don’t like reality stretched too much. My childhood reaction to The Cat in The Hat Comes Back  is a case in point. Hmm, is Dr Seuss a magical realist? I wonder?

Ha! A quick Google search reveals I’m not the first to ask.

And then, there’s Peter Pan. Our childhood  copy was a pale blue, hard cover book with exquisite colour plates. It transported me to Neverland on wings made from the fairy dust of J M Barrie’s imagination. I love that book. Everything about it. Peter, Wendy, Hook, Tink and the boys – they were my very best fictional friends. Well, maybe not Hook but as baddies go he was a goodie.  Scary, mean, and dangerous; and bound to pay the price for his evil ways. The book was so loved and read so many times the pages fell out. My sister has it now.  Whenever I want I can visit, say hello to our old crowd, and glory in those colour plates and fantastical, wonderful Neverland.

By the way, according to Google, Peter Pan isn’t magical realism. That’s because the fantasy world and the real world don’t mix, except at the portal – when Peter comes to fetch Wendy and the others. So, now you know and so do I.

I was moved by burnsthefire‘s tribute to Marquez. I ought to have been sleeping. Instead, I commented on the post. I said how much I enjoyed it, that I thought I would read him for myself. And then I happily drifted off into a long, deep and forgetful sleep. It was much needed. I have been suffering the disorder familiar to avid readers: self-inflicted, mild sleep deprivation.

When I checked my emails this morning two stood out. First a reply to my comment. Brenda recommended I try One Hundred Years of Solitude first. I gulped. What exactly had I gone and said? A quick check confirmed my fears. Yep, there it was for all the blogging world to see, my undertaking to read Marquez. Was there a way to wriggle out of this, I wondered? Perhaps, I could never visit this blog site again, clever and witty and entertaining though it is. Who, apart from me, would remember I had made such a foolhardy declaration? It’s not really true that the internet never forgets, I told myself.

And then I read Mr Ross Murray’s most recent post.You will know, my dear dream reader, I take his advice on life seriously. If you visit his blog, you will see it is full of witticisms that have the potential to help one to lead a moral and upstanding life. (His comments on S & D not withstanding). Mr Ross Murray says and I quote: “When you make a deal with someone, follow through right away; don’t hold up your end of the bargain.’

More gulping, loud gulping, that may have sounded a lot like choking! (Or laughing – I’ll leave that for you to determine.)

So, the upshot is, there is no backing down, no backing away from the things that are said!

As Peter Pan himself declared: Life is an awfully big adventure. And  in my own words, What’s a life without a challenge? Or two? I have Zero to Hero to complete. And a new reading adventure.  One Hundred Years of Solitude is on my kindle.

Because I’m a Kiwi, because I’m in need of some courage and some determination to help with this awfully big adventure, here’s the All Blacks. It’s the haka, just before the Rugby World Cup final against France back in 2011.

I watched that game. (A fact that, although I am a Kiwi, is remarkable in itself but that’s an entirely different story.) I remember the last few seconds of that game: Richie McCaw, our captain, looking like he’s been through my mother’s wringer, looking  like he might choke. The entire nation holding it’s breath. Richie dug deep. He kept the team focused and we won the cup. They’re heroes, those boys!

So when it comes to this challenge I’ll do my best not to choke. I’ll let you know how I get on – she types bravely.

What do you think, dear dream reader? With my reading history what are my chances? Will I choke? Or will Mr Marquez give me something to chew? And if it’s the latter, will it be to my taste?

12 replies »

    • Ha! This may not have been you intention Mr Ross Murray but my husband read your post, laughed out loud, and then on the strength of Observation 3 sat down at his computer and ploughed his way through a one thousand page document from the District Council!


  1. One hundred years of solitude is a fav of mine, for shear brilliance in story telling and voice. I absolutely loved it. Now, I thought my novel was magic realism. I see now perhaps it’s not. I’m not sure what it is. The fantasy people will say it’s not fantastical enough and the realists know it’s too far fetched. Oh dear.


    • I didn’t know that KJ. Double the reason now to read it! Who is it who says she doesn’t trust Google? AS Byatt? The definition of magical realism I found might not be accurate.


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