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Steven Millhauser

“…Art is connected in my mind—in my body—with a sense of enhancement, of radical pleasure, of affirmation, of revelry. Darkness is the element against which this deeper force asserts itself. It may even be that this force deliberately seeks out darkness, in order to assert itself more radically.”  In Transatlantica (2003).

“I’m fanatically reluctant to say that fiction ought to do one thing rather than another. I do know what I want from fiction. I want it to exhilarate me, to unbind my eyes, to murder and resurrect me, to harm me in some fruitful way. But that said, yes, the journey into intense feeling and the conquest of unknown emotional territory is something fiction can make possible.” — In Bomb (2003)

“Legitimate, bona fide monsters do in fact make occasional appearances in my work, but what interests me is something quite different. What interests me—not exclusively, but in relation to the monstrous—is the place where the familiar begins to turn strange. When things cease to be themselves, when they begin to turn into something else, which has no name—that is a region I’m always drawn to. This, I think, accounts for my interest in night scenes, in childhood, in bands of prowling adolescent girls, in underground and attic places, in obsession, in heightened states of awareness. In this sense, it might easily be argued that the wondrous and the monstrous are very much the same.” — In Bomb (2003)


Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. 
Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, p. 2

Where precisely is the magic in the opening sentences of One Hundred Years of Solitude? Is it the notion that one might live in a world where one must discover ice? Is there anything magical about a river of clear water with polished stones so white and enormous that they are like “prehistoric eggs”? Or does the magic appear only when we read that “the world was so recent many things lacked names” and “in order to indicate them it was necessary to point”? Perhaps, more than anything, the opening lines of One Hundred Years of Solitude prepare the reader for magic. They suggest that we are entering a world of myth, a world with a history that extends far back in time but also reaches forward to the moment in which a colonel stands before a firing squad and contemplates one single miraculous moment from his childhood. We might see this opening as one of the endless variations of Once upon a time…, which suggests to us that what follows will be a fairy tale, a time of magic that has gone by, a journey undertaken long ago.