Magical Realism sans Optimism

It’s possible to argue that fairy tales as they were stood as the first incarnation of the various forms of fantastically-flecked forms of realism that have come since their introduction. I have been reading Neil Gaiman’s recently-published collection of “Short Stories and Wonders”, Fragile Things, and, having taken notice of this very overtly demonstrated debt to Bradbury, have been doing a little thinking about Bradbury’s style of writing in opposition to the Magical Realism of someone like Marquez.
Bradbury took the perceived realities and the real anxieties of passing into an age of science and a realm of new unknowns and paired them with the inexplicable logic of dreams and fear. Marquez took the realities of a world moribund with culture and a dearth of channels for advancement and mixes the mundane with the fantastic. Aside from the fact that the two writers were working in two separate cultural milieus as they developed their styles, as just described, the important difference between the two writers is that Marquez, in the prosaic-world-turned-fantastic, maintains a humorous sense of optimism and humanity even when faced with the intrusion of the uncanny. Bradbury’s world of the inexplicable-turned-prosaic does not bring optimism to the feast. In Bradbury’s stories it is not in our own world that we find ourselves witness to wonders, and those wonders his characters do witness are not bound to our comforting calendar of holidays.

Gaiman’s Fragile Things is a very enjoyable read, each story short and to the point. The brevity of the writing at times seems to give away that the story is predicated more on a writing exercise than on a well-executed idea, but his imagination and sense of the macabre (and the various ways antedeluvian language can be used to evoke said atmosphere) make that critque a petty bone to nitpick.

He’s a Bradbury crossed with a Barker- but his worlds are more banal than Bradbury’s and his writing is not anywhere near as chaotically meandering as Barker’s.