A few years ago I read nearly all the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927, Columbia), stopping with his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude still unread. I was looking this morning at the list of short story writers on Amlit.com and I was happy to see three stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez listed. (Sometimes stories that should be protected by copy right laws get on free public web pages through the generosity of the author, sometimes it just happens.)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a very important 20th century author. He won the Nobel Prize in 1982. Nearly all of Latin American literature stands in his shadow, including Roberto Bolano. Much of the literature of what some call "The Third World" is very derivative from the work of Marquez. For sure this is true of the writers of the Philippines. He brought into currency "Magical Realism" as a literary category. Some see "Magical Realism" as also an anti-colonial literary device and I kind of see this also. Here is how Wikipedia defines "Magic Realism":
magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences that are presented in a straightforward manner which allows the "real" and the "fantastic" to be accepted in the same stream of thought.
As "Eva is Inside Her Cat" (no translation credit is given for this story and the date I attribute to it is also a guess) is told in the first person by a woman of an old aristocratic family cursed (in her mind at least) with incredible beauty. ( I know at first this seems like a curse most of us could live with and I do wonder now if there are any works by women in which a woman sincerely laments her great beauty. From Homer to Yeats there are male works with such a theme but is there one anywhere by a woman?) Here is how the feelings of the woman regarding her looks are conveyed:
All of a sudden she noticed that her beauty had fallen all apart on her, that it had begun to pain her physically like a tumor or a cancer. She still remembered the weight of the privilege she had borne over her body during adolescence, which she had dropped now--who knows where?--with the weariness of resignation, with the final gesture of a declining creature. It was impossible to bear that burden any longer. She had to drop that useless attribute of her personality somewhere; as she turned a corner, somewhere in the outskirts. Or leave it behind on the coat rack of a second-rate restaurant like some old useless coat. She was tired of being the center of attention, of being under siege from men's long looks.
As the story begins the woman feels she is dying. The sensations in her body tell her that death is coming for her soon. She begins to look for something in which she can place her spirit so she can live on. She also begins to think of a young man with whom she had a seemingly forbidden love affair due to class conflicts.
I do not wish to give a way more of the plot of this delightful very though provoking story. It is in the tradition of the twist ending but that is not a bad thing unless it is the only point of a story.
"Eva is Inside Her Cat" can be seen as magic realism in its plot lines or it can see seen as the hallucinations of a person in the last stages of a terminal disease. The ending makes us rethink our seeming understanding of the work as a whole.
I enjoyed this story a lot. There are two more stories by Gabriel Marquez online and I will probably read them soon. I do intend to read his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude very soon and am looking forward to it a lot.
"Eva is Inside Her Cat" can be read online.