Magic Realism

I just ran across your website today, so please indulge me while catch up. Neandertaler mused nearly a year ago about the possibility of the “inner caveman” of the person in the hotel room connecting with the “actual caveman” on the TV screen, who at that moment is having a “dream-time epiphany about what the future holds for mankind.” I instantly thought of two short stories by Argentine magic realist Julio Cortázar. For what it’s worth, I throw them into the mix. In “La Noche Boca Arriba” (The Night Face Up), a nameless man driving a motorbike is involved in an accident and ends up in the hospital. Wracked by a fever, he appears to dream that he is a fugitive trying to hide from the Incas on their annual hunt for someone to ritually sacrifice. In the end, with the hunters closing in, it is difficult to say for sure whether the modern man is dreaming the ancient fugitive or the reverse. In “Axolotl,” the narrator has been transformed into an axolotl, a species of salamander, after spending many hours watching them in an aquarium. As an axolotl, the man still sees the human he used to be and hopes the human will write a story about a man who becomes an axolotl.

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