Thursday, April 17, 2014


I read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez for the first time on an Israeli kibbutz where I was suffering from a mysterious fever. About midway through the novel I was burning, my fever so intense I had to set down the book and go outside and remind myself that I was still in this world, the one I'd been in before I picked up the book. The moon and stars were close enough to touch, the air smelled of oranges, the turkeys cried, and I wandered, crowned by a wreath of yellow butterflies, just like the young man in the novel. 

García Márquez made me dizzy with the sense of possibility, of how high a writer can aim. Even more he made me realize that his Macondo was no more fantastic or magical than the world that surrounded me—i.e., the Israeli reality, the culmination of centuries of Jewish dreams and fantasies. Jewish history is a primer in understanding magical realism: a small group of wanderers who are persecuted wherever they go because they persist in shooting the clay feet from every idol and in finding God in the imagination rather than in the flesh. Jewish identity, in all its ghetto-mellah-converso-ashkenazi-Sephardic-mizrahi beauty, pain and absurdity, is the essence of magic realism....

I wrote this several years ago when I was asked by Tamara Kaye Sellman, the editor of MARGIN, a journal that focused on magic realism, for a personal definition of what I consider magic realism to be. For me, it was linked with my identity as a writer and a Jew, and I never felt it more powerfully than when I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez died today in Mexico City at age 87. A native of Colombia, he is widely credited with helping to popularize "magical realism," a genre "in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination," as the Nobel committee described it upon awarding him the prize for literature in 1982.

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez for your brilliance, sense of play, and never-ending dreams that provide inspiration for countless writers all over the world. 

Rest in peace. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014


This post is for all you creative souls out there, whatever your medium of expression. And yeah, it's for me, too. Sometimes we need reminders.

The traditional advice is to write the book you'd love to read.

Not the book you display proudly on your shelf, not the one you talk about at parties and quote reviews without having read it, not the one you wish you would write, and not the one you could write if you were another writer.


Write the kind of book you read when you're alone at night and reading is the only answer-- the story that warms you like a blanket, sparks your senses, excites your emotions and your mind, and returns you to the enchanted garden of childhood when every story was magic.

The story that changed your life. The story that made you feel as if stars were falling from the sky into your hands.

Yeah, that story.

The one that was clearly written by an author who loved her story because it sang her truth. No wonder those stories change our lives. Writing them changed their authors' lives.

So why isn't that always the song we write, the illusion we perform, the story we write?

Fear is one reason. Fear of digging deep into our truth and admitting what we love-- kind of like sex, admitting what turns us on. And fear of being judged. We've heard often enough that children's literature is lesser, romance is mindless, magic is nothing but tricks, and on and on.

Another reason is that we don't trust the whispering voice inside us, the jagged-edged stars that appear in our writing with no logic, no sense, no reason ... and yet, they're ours emerging from a deep, dark world we can't explain.

Hold onto those stars. Love that whispering voice. And when you follow the whispers like a detective following clues, the voice on the page sounds ... more like you.

And you'll love your story, and others will, too.