Had the robust seeds of magical realism not been planted in such infertile ground as Marxian social “development,” the genre might have become much more than the parochial domain of only one of its early masters (Specifically: Borges, the only author of such literature whose talent for the truth superverted the mandatory “literary Leftism” of the ex-centric revolutionary element of magical realism. There are only two other authors of magical realism whose stories are even readable through the haze of their own tired politics, but Borges is first and foremost a storyteller, and a great one.)
The Jaybird’s Nest and Other Stories is a new fiction anthology by Jill Domschot that effortlessly strips the ingrained revolutionary ornamentation from magical realism, and lets it fly unburdened through the night.
And through the night it shall go. I’m not much of a market watcher, but it probably doesn’t take one to note that Libertarian Magical Realism is not quite poised to knock Romance and Thrillers off the bestseller lists. You’ve probably been here long enough to realize that such an observation really doesn’t matter. What matters is quality, and Jaybird’s Nest has it.
On a national level, there were two: I could have care with the Troglodytes (as represented by the mad scientist) or with the Gobernadoras (as represented by the bruja). The Troglodytes were a group of conservative, male doctors who were against child caps and divining. Pat despised them—she was quick to tell me—as she insisted they were gleeful about removing female anatomy. This was because they preferred hysterectomies to magic.
The Gobernadoras were the supposed traditional curanderas who would perform anything and everything at their own discretion. Ah, that was still a controversial subject for some people, such as medical historians. Pat ran off to her bling booth before I could manage to form any words. The other healthcare woman, quiet up to that moment, gave me a pitying look.
“Don’t worry, the Troglodytes are outlawed in this state,” she informed me. “But it’s the national law to tell you they’re available as an option.”
~From “Embrace the Cardboard Troglodyte”
Although the book suffers from the near-universal ailment of Anthology Unevenness, it does so in an unusual way. Typically an anthology has stories of varying quality, a range of “hits” and “misses.” Jaybird’s Nest doesn’t have so many misses as it has misplacements: stories that would come off stronger (especially the clever Map-themed and anthropological Sardon stories) in a different order and placement. In fact, the LifeMap concept has the potential of shifting this anthology from a collection to a hypertext fix-up novel on its own, with Sardon stories serving as more overt fragments of the anthropological history of the doomed flannel-graph planet in “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
Whoa, whoa. Let’s back up here. Good Magical Realism is heady stuff, but even the most bold and revolutionary texts may end up with poison pages. Let me see if I can keep you from keeling over before you get to the good parts.
So, some of the good parts, in no order but awesome order:
There are many more like this, as well as a pair of recurrent themed stories (the above mentioned “Maps” and “Sardon” tales). I could probably fall into the trap of describing the other stories in cliches typically reserved for literary fiction:
Speaking of underground, The Jaybird’s Nest and Other Stories is downright subterranean. The stories are deep dives into what makes us human, but Domschot takes no pains to filet the surface in her choice to explore the labyrinth below. No sunlight will artificially touch these buried artifacts.
To find them, you are going to have to strip down, hold your breath, and dive in.The Jaybird’s Nest and Other Stories (Paperback and E-book) Author: Jill Domschot