: that modern Latin American literature came to be
: identified in some quarters only with magical realism,
: i.e. books by Latin American authors that couldn't be
: categorized as such tended to be ignored or
What an awful thought! Some Latin American authors (Borges, Garcia Marquez, et al.) come up with an excellent idea, which then turns into a straitjacket for authors from 20 or so countries!
: Plot / situation. Does the plot or the situation
: depicted stimulate your mind? We know many works of
: literary art need no plot, and then the way to present
: a plotless situation becomes relevant.
Yes, plot is tricky. Used in a narrow sense of a "patterned" story, e.g., Tom Jones, few modern novels have plots (although David Mitchell does). However, it seems to me that a successful novel must have narrative momentum of some kind. Wittgenstein's Mistress, The Sense of an Ending, and Omensetter's Luck certainly do not have traditional plots, but they all have a compelling narrative. I was unable to read The Slynx because I felt that it has none.
: Character development. Do you care about the
: characters and their fate? Do they ring a bell in your
: psyche? Are they attractive as such?
This one is debatable. Characters need to be compelling in some way, but not necessarily likeable or attractive. I didn't like anyone much in Sense of an Ending, but I thought it was a good novel. I didn't like the characters in The Sea, and I thought it was an excellent novel (with a clever plot). I was interested in the characters in both novels, and I suppose I cared what happened to them, but without liking them much. The ultimate example is probably The Prague Cemetery. And yet, I have come across books that affected me as The Bone People did both Steven and Guillermo in which I didn't want to spend any more time with the characters. It's hard to explain, isn't it?
: Isn't postmodernism in some ways a present day
: substitute? Thinking of such works as Gravity's
: Rainbow and Infinite Jest, we have the ridiculous and
: the absurd taking the place of the magical and the
: purely symbolic.
Very interesting. I believe you're right. Pynchon, DFW, John Barth, and company all feature unrealistic events, situations, and so on, but they're not fantasy or even magic realism. I wonder why not?
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