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Animals Carry the Magic in Jaguar Paloma

In fiction, people are driven by motivations that have to be carefully explained and that are required to make more logical sense than happens in reality. So, when you're writing magical realism, how do you introduce magic? In my new novel, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar, animals fit the bill. Without too many spoiler alerts, here are some of my favorite animals:

  • Crows are harbingers of guilt and entrap a key character
  • Insects descend on the village and carry away chicks
  • Monkeys steal the wigs from brides and carry them like babies in the jungle
  • Goats being driven to market won't leave Paloma's side, with dire consequences
  • Ducks react to Paloma and stockpile eggs like the opposite of cannon balls.

There are many more examples and I hope you'll enjoy discovering them in Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar.

 

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A Personal Story in a Fictional Land

Balcony in Colombia. Photo by JW

Though Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar is set in the jungles of Colombia, it's an intensely personal story of my actual life.

 

For example: I am a single-mother-by-choice and so have experienced firsthand the ridiculous stigma put on single mothers. I've been assaulted nine times in my life, though never raped, and so am part of the global community of assault survivors, like the women of Tartatenango. I live in California and have experienced firsthand the anxiety that's caused by drought and extreme weather. That's also why this book is set in Calexicobia: an entirely fictional place, but one in which my personal location – California – can be part of the story, not exclusively someone else's country. And the intense love between women, sexual or otherwise, is one of the cornerstones of my life as a bisexual and a radical feminist.

 

Here are some other key ideas from a recent "Interview with the Author": Read More 

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#MeToo in Macondo: New Novel is an Homage to Gabo's Women

The author at the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Museum, the house where he was raised by his grandparents in Aracataca, Colombia.

My novel Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar has been inspired by the Colombian classic.

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the finest books ever written, in my opinion. I have read it five times and the last time through, the relationships and positions of the women started to jump to the foreground. Here's where it took me, and how some of my new novel, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar, has been inspired by it:

 

Legitimacy's Paper and Cake

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's (Gabo's) novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is set in the town of MacondoPilar Tennara, the saloon keeper, and Ursula, the matriarch of the Buendia family, were among the founders of the town. They had walked through the swamp together before insisting that Ursula's husband stop their wandering and settle. Ursula gave birth on the way, so I had always assumed that the two women grew close as a result.  Read More 

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