Realism In the Library of Infinite Imaginations by Iain Emsley
Magic Realism has under gone a subtle transformation and broadening of its boundaries.
No longer can it be seen as purely a fictional construct to deal with the complex social and cultural cauldron
of Latin America, but as a more widely accepted mode which allows the fantastic walk exist in the mundane world.
The vibrancy and passion underlined by a strangeness is more acceptable to the modern eye, especially when it comes from the Americas.
Hand is a writer of transformation on so many levels - from the personal to a wider group. She is able to morph the matter of the world into something new and to make it lyrical. Her writing erupts in a myriad of color (or lack thereof) and the atmosphere moves from the Techno-Industrial fetish scene to the aging proto-punks and New Agers.
In Floater, Lucius Shepherd tells the story of Dempsey, a New York cop currently on suspension for shooting an unarmed Haitian man with his partners. His vision becomes impaired by a floater, microscopic pieces of protein in the eye, but his optometrist tells him there is nothing to be afraid of. A niggling question grows in his mind, mirroring the floater's continuing growth, and he embarks on a journey of self-transformation, opening himself up to the possibility that he has been cursed in a Voodoo ritual.
Shepherd takes the real events of a New York police shooting and deftly unweaves the Haitian society, writing with a sensitivity to all parties. There is no judgment made about the case or that an immense god game is being played out. Rather Dempsey, and by extension the reader, is opened to the Haitian world and the mythos that is Voodoo. Once again, the fantastic is in existence but is never commented upon.
In each of the stories, there is a sense of the fantastic which sometimes intrudes but always hovers in the periphery. It is, however, never commented upon by the protagonists. Indeed the main milieu is the recognizable, tangible world around us but not one which crosshatches into fantasy. Both writers have taken magic realism and have re-imagined it within their own boundaries. They take hold of the nature and histories of their settings and explore them within their realistic boundaries. What emerges are the needful patterns of the extant world and the transformations therein, open to us should we wish to see them.
Both writers utilize whatever form and style is suitable for a particular story in the same vein as the New Weird writers and they both
show the incredible force that genre writing can be. From this they appear to be carrying on the tradition of Carroll, Crowley and Hoffman in
broadening magic realism to accommodate North American writers and broadening our visions of Fantasy. Such deeply powerful and strange
writing should not be ignored, certainly in this time of the New Weird.