Monday, March 17, 2008

"ghetto of magical realism"

The literary style of Like Water for Chocolate, magical realism, is one that we rarely encounter at Pascack Hills. The only other book that I can relate to is summer reading for freshman year english, which was Pete Hamill's Snow In August. I'll let do the summary. "In 1940s Brooklyn, friendship between an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy and an elderly Jewish rabbi might seem as unlikely as, well, snow in August. But the relationship between young Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch is only one of the many miracles large and small contained in Pete Hamill's novel...Interlaced with Hamill's realistic descriptions of violence and fear are scenes of remarkable poignancy...(and) Michael's introduction into the mystical world of the Cabbala and the book's miraculous ending."

When reading criticism in The New York Times, I saw that many critics "in the United States...often consigned (this genre) to the "charming but aren't we moderns above it" ghetto of magical realism" (O'Neill 1993). I gathered from that statement that critics look down on this genre; as a result, many great books in this genre go unnoticed, which is why they get skipped over here at Pascack Hills too. However, I happen to like this style and would be interested in reading more; I think it is a breath of fresh air. The "magic" keeps the reading light, and gets the ideas, emotions, and feelings across more accurately. Wikipedia describes magical realism as "combining the external factors of human existence with the internal ones: it is a fusion between scientific physical reality and psychological human reality; it incorporates aspects of human existence such as thoughts, emotions, dreams, cultural mythologies and imagination. Through this amalgamation, magic realism can be more exact in depicting human reality." I agree with this, instead of having to infer the characters' feelings, they are played out in this mystical fashion that personifies their emotions very obviously.

In Like Water for Chocolate there are many examples of this already, even though I'm only half way through. When Tita, the main character, cooks for her family, she pours her emotions into the food and when anyone eats that meal, they are immediately overcome with whatever Tita's emotions were when she prepared the meal. When preparing wedding cake for her sister's wedding, she was extremely distraught and depressed because she was the one truly in love with her soon to be brother-in-law. Once the wedding guests ate the cake, they became violently ill, vomiting everywhere. Now, this obviously would not happen; just because the chef is depressed while making the food does not mean the consumers of the meal would be depressed, but it serves as a great metaphor of Tita's distress. Laura Esquivel cleverly and seemlessly weaves together the symbolisms of Tita's emotions into her greatest passion, cooking.

** Paris Countdown - 25 days! **
As spring break gets nearer, the more excited I get! I'm going to Paris with A.P. Studio Arts ( and the A.P. French class). I'm a little worried because I don't know any French, but I am very excited to go and take lots of pictures. I found this blog called Paris Daily Photo. The title is self-explanatory; everyday the author posts a picture of Paris. I keep checking back to get a little preview of what's to come.