favorite titles and authors?

TalkMagical Realist and Fantastic Literature

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favorite titles and authors?

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Aug 7, 2007, 11:43pm

Wow...only a few days and several others have joined. What is everyone reading now? What are your favorite magical realist or fantastic authors or titles? I am looking for recommendations for new books and authors. I am particularly fond of Angela Carter, Italo Calvino, Jose Saramago, Jeanette Winterson, so many others. But I really in search of new authors, too.


Aug 8, 2007, 2:20pm

I'm most of the way through The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which may qualify as magical realist. It's set in a world very close to our own where the Jews were chased out of Israel in 1948 and given a temporary haven in Alaska. One of the characters quietly blesses people and their problems get worked out. Quite a good read!

3tros First Message
Aug 10, 2007, 5:24pm

Currently reading: W.H.Hodgson "Adrift on the Haunted Seas". I'd add Leo Perutz, Ismail Kadare, Orhan Pamuk, Jan Potocki. Some tend to be more "magic" than realist.

Aug 10, 2007, 10:30pm

I too like Calvino, especially If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. Another favorite that I think qualifies is Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. I wonder if Gene Wolfe's Castleview, subtitled "an Arthurian epic of modern Illinois," is considered MR?

Aug 11, 2007, 5:59pm

I haven't seen Jorge Luis Borges mentioned here. His anthology Labyrinths is a wonderful look at his work.

Gabriel Garcia Marques's One Thousand Years of Solitude I believe is considered classic MR.

Same with Isabel Allende.

I apologize if I'm being too obvious here.

Nov 19, 2007, 11:51am

Too many authors, let alone single works, to narrow it down. Glad to see Potocki mentioned. Invisible Cities is one of Calvino's that hasn't been mentioned yet. Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius and The Aleph by Borges is a favorite (I think the monolith in 2001 a Space Oddesy is an Aleph). Some authors that haven't been mentioned yet (by no order of preference): Cynthia Ozick, Julio Cortazar, Silvina Ocampo, Danilo Kis, Milorad Pavic, Ben Okri, Iris Murdoch (couldn't touchstone for some reason) , Bruno Schulz, and many more.

Nov 19, 2007, 1:06pm

# 6
"Tlon, Uqbar, Orbus Tertius" is a short story, but as a book it is only 22 pages, and is usually collected with others of his stories.

The Touchstone for the other authors takes you to one of their works. Did you put double brackets around the author?

The way to get Iris Murdoch to come up, is to put double brackets around the surname only, and when the Murdoch Touchstone comes up on the right, punch in (others) and find Iris among the 63 possibilities. This work around doesn't work for common surnames.

Nov 20, 2007, 3:00pm

>7 vpfluke:

I know it's a short story. I thought the category favorite 'titles' and authors included short stories. In my little list I touchstoned the authors and, if there was an okay title along with them, I left it as is. Otherwise, I'd just pick a work by the author that related to the discussion or was a good representation of their style. Thanks for the Murdoch tip. I'll use it in the future with other authors. Do you have any favorites you'd like to share?

Nov 20, 2007, 3:42pm


I am a fan of Borges, and am glad to see references to him. The House of Asterion is one story that I remember well. Besides iits references to the Cretan labyrinth, I was oddly attracted to the idea of the number 14 as symbolizing infinity. At that time I worked for a public transportation agency that was an early user of magnetically encoded tickets (1969). The empolyees all carried their own private ticket encoded with the number 14, which gave them unlimited rides.

The most recent book I read in which fantastic things happen was Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. The story is Japanese with references back to the atomic bomb dropping and the effect it had on some linked characters many years later.

The Murdoch work-around works about 70% of the time. The Murakami author Touchstone worked without a hitch. I try to remember to review my published touchstones to make sure they refer to my intended author or work. These become a real problem if you go back and edit your message, because you have to go and redo all the funky Touchstones.

Nov 21, 2007, 10:34am


In reference to the bus tickets; That's a neat coincidence that could easily have found it's way into a Borges story or perhaps whoever encoded the tickets was aware of this association with the number 14. Interesting post vp. Maybe you should start a Borges forum within this group. If not, maybe I will. There are enough facets to his work to merit an entire group dedicated to him and his work.

Thought you might enjoy this wikipedia article on the Monkey Theorem redirected from the article for Borges The Total Library: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Total_Library#Origins_and_.22The_Total_Library.... . The Total Library is mentioned in the origins section of the monkey article. Enjoy.

Nov 21, 2007, 2:04pm

I was never entirely satisfied with Borges' Total Library (But there is a touchstone!). Mabye, the postulation is for a world a little too random.

My alternate libraries developed in my daydreams were for a library that had every book and other items every printed. The building was so vast that you needed a small-car trolley system to traverse its various decks and extensions, but the basic shape was circular, somewhat akin to the images we have of the Tower of Babel.

The other library was a building of a very square, if not cubic character (half of it undergound). Access to books, magazines, and ephemera, was based on on many people had possessed that itme at some point (and for how long). So for books printed, and held on to by many people for a long time, you might have a 98% chance of retrieving it from this library based on some random availability. But a book published in small numbers that did not sell, and has been out of print for a 100 years, you might only have 2-3% chance of retrieving it. the downside of the library is that theater tickets for a long-runnig Broadway show are very retrievable.

Now there is also a branch of the latter, where the availablility is based on people's actually have read it. This means old manuscript prayer books whose very few copies were constantly being read, were very available.

Now, you can see the problematic mental constructs Borges put me into when I first started reading him over 35 years ago.

Nov 21, 2007, 3:53pm

Unfortunately, vpfluke, I don't have time for a lenghthier response to your post but, suffice to say, you are the kind of interesting person I was hoping to converse with via LT, and I know exactly what you mean by Borges opening doors to problematic mental constructs. Look forward to further conversation, but, for now, I have a review of Dewey before our final exam tomorrow.


13tom1066 First Message
Nov 22, 2007, 3:05pm

I would suggest John Crowley as a very interesting author for those interested in serious fiction with a hint (sometimes more than a hint) of fantasy. His four-book AEgypt series is being reissued in paperback this year. His best single book is Little, Big, which was also recently reissued.

He began his career as a science fiction writer and fairly quickly outgrew the genre (I say this with all due respect to the SF/fantasy genres) by his ability to combine SF and fantasy ideas, a unique literary style and an intricately-constructed story.

For what it's worth, Harold Bloom put three of Crowley's novels in his "Western Canon."

If you want to start somewhere, Little, Big is a great place. His short stories are also wonderful. The AEgypt series will appeal to those interested in John Dee, Giordano Bruno, Frances Yates and Rosicrucianism.

Edited: Jan 6, 2008, 11:40am

As a big fan of magic realism and fantastic lit (a new term to me but the books aren't), I can recommend Lisa Goldstein, especially if you like Angela Carter. Another author you may not have read is Jonathan Carroll. His books grab you or grow on you--some of his are almost fairy tale-ike, but many are suspenseful or explore the concepts involved in death--always entertaining, with dark humor, and thought-provoking. Outside the Dog Museum begins: "I'd just bitten the hand that fed me when God called, again..."

I also love the more traditional examples of magic realism, 100 Years of Solitude and House of the Spirits and will be checking in on this group! Thanks for starting it

gee none of my touchstones took--they all say "loading." hmmm

Mar 7, 2008, 9:37am

I'm delighted to see another fan of Leo Perutz. I'm often shocked by how few people have heard of him.

Mar 7, 2008, 12:10pm

I second the recommendation for Lisa Goldstein. Her books are sometimes hard to find, but always interesting to read.

Mar 7, 2008, 12:24pm

I like Lisa Goldstein also, and realized that I hadn't entered Dark cities underground into my library. My most recent read of hers was Walking the Labyrinth.

Mar 9, 2008, 9:04pm

I haven't read any Lisa Goldstein. Is there a best book of hers with which to start? Thanks!

Mar 9, 2008, 11:34pm

I think Dark Cities Underground is Lisa Goldstein's most commonly owned book in LT, has the highest rating, and is the one I liked the best. I thought Walking the Labyrinth was pretty good, too.