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Magical/Realism: Essays on Music, Memory, Fantasy, and Boarders
by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
From award-winning poet Vanessa Angélica Villarreal comes a brilliant, singular collection of essays that looks to music, fantasy, and pop culture to excavate and reimagine what has been disappeared by the forces of migration and colonialism.
In Magical/Realism, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal offers us an intimate mosaic of migration, violence, and colonial erasure through the lens of her marriage and her experiences navigating American monoculture. As she attempts to recover the truth from the absences and silences within her life, her relationships, and those of her ancestors, Vanessa pieces together her story from the fragments of music, memory, and fantasy that have helped her make sense of it all. The trauma of remembering gives the collection its unique structure: Each chapter is an attempt to reimagine and re-world what has been lost.
In one essay, Vanessa examines the gender performativity of Nirvana and Selena; in another, she offers a radical but crucial racial reading of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones; and throughout the collection, she explores how fantasy can provide healing when grief feels insurmountable. She reflects on the moments of her life that are too painful to remember—her difficult adolescence, her role as the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, her divorce—and finds a new way to archive her history and map her future(s), one infused with the hope and joy of fantasy and magical thinking.
By engaging readers in her project of rebuilding narrative, Vanessa broadens our understanding of what memoir and cultural criticism can be. Magical/Realism is a wise, tender, and essential collection that carves a path toward a new way of remembering and telling our stories.
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