Márquez himself needs no introduction, but his short novel Of Love and Other Demons had completely escaped my radar. My experience with Spanish-language magic realism had been limited to short stories until this point, and I probably would have defaulted to one of the more well-known Márquez titles, but my girlfriend finished this one a few weeks ago and found it enthralling, so I took her recommendation and find myself very glad I did. I’m sure I’ll swing back to some of his big titles within a year or so, but Love and Other Demons is one of the best books I’ve read in 2015.
The magical elements are more toned-down here than in the only other Márquez I’ve read, (the much-anthologized A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings) but this creates a stronger sense of greater-than-reality -the borders of possibility are so blurred. The book never even feels translated -an impressive feat. Márquez’s prose isn’t the meticulously constructed realism of John Gardner or even Carver, but an easy flowing effortlessness that belies a total mastery of the medium of storytelling. That’s where this book really runs away with you -it’s simply a story that exemplifies the fantastic. It’s not hyperbole or exaggeration, just complete dedication to the fulfillment of a story’s potential as a tale in the most archetypal sense of the idea. It’s a fairy story for grown-ups, but the fairies are understated, lending their magic unseen to the larger-than-life characters here, each of them completely believable and utterly improbable.
Recommendation: Buy it and read it somewhere at least tangentially removed from the realities of everyday life.