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Magical Realism Emerges in the New Book

Art on a hotel wall in Colombia. Photo by JW

My new novel, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar, is in the genre of magical realism.

This is my first volume of magical realism. It's a style I love to read and have always longed to write. And it has been creeping into my writing over the years. For example, in The Mandrake Broom the protagonist doesn't age like others do because of a potion given to her by her mother. In A Slender Tether, the doctor in "The Gong Farmer's Tale" is sealed up in a cave by a bear. There is a tiny bit in Straight Uphill when an extraordinary people arrive to honor a hero of World War I. But this is the most extensive use of magical realism in my writing to date, and it was absolutely the most fun I have ever had writing anything.


Here are some of my favorite visuals from Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar

  • I love the monkeys in the trees with the wigs, the way they cradle them like babies.
  • I think Dr. Valdez is so precious. The image of this waist-high light, his bioluminescent hands moving towards across a dance floor. That's the image that made me want to include this character.
  • I can see the sandbar encircled with bushes where Paloma meets Ian; the way the light filters through the branches; the eggs stacked like cannonballs (the anti-weapon, if you will, or the weapons of women).
  • I love the birds in the trees that were mistaken for blossoms until they fly away when Paloma is forced to flee.
  • I love the visual of Old Man Orjuela with a young woman's hand clasped between his as he tells her everything she always wanted to hear.
  • I think the storm when she comes home is really vivid and I can see them coming down a mountainside with the goats so desperate to be near her that they put everyone in danger.
  • Other favorites are the abandoned wheel of fortune when a bird lands on it and sets it in motion; the mold that covers the town; the blue mist that hugs the ground around the house when Paloma makes love with Gonzago the muleteer.

The whole project actually was ready to begin when I thought of the final scene when the village marches into Araca. I wanted to write a scene where women who were considered of "ill repute" march en masse toward a funeral even though they have been expressly forbidden to attend. They claim their rights and are formidable. I hope you'll find them as compelling as I did. Thanks!




Photo by JW of artwork painted on hotel wall in Colombia



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