Zoe Brooks at the Magic Realism wrote a really cool and balanced review of Watering Heaven. I love how she reviews a variety of books revolving around the theme of Magic Realism. I’ve noted in previous posts how when I wrote the collection, I never even thought about them as a genre per se. In fact, I didn’t even really know about Magic Realism until people started telling me my book (and my short stories when they were first published) fell into that category! I am familiar with surreal works like Marquez, obviously Kafka, Mo Yan (who I’ve come to know after WH). I still have not read any Murakami and don’t plan on reading anything by him as a lot of people said parts of WH remind them of Murakami and I don’t want to be influenced by his writing, ha ha (which I’m sure is brilliant). But Zoe brought up some good points, one of them being my choice to “remix” a cast of three characters in a similar love story format. For many of the stories, I wanted to explore “love” so that you had a narrator who met a love interest and then something strange happened. When I originally submitted Watering Heaven, the names of all the principal characters in the story were the same (Byron meets Sarah, etc.). I wanted to make it clear I was remixing the stories, kind of like alternative universes of the same characters. My editor thought it was too confusing and suggested I change their names as well as cut out more of the love stories. He also felt I should leave some of the stories with different narratives/themes in. While I changed their names, I felt really strongly about keeping the love stories in and cut out the different types. In retrospect, based on the main criticism of the book I’ve received, he was right, lol. I still don’t regret it though as it’s a choice I made and one a younger me stood by (even if an older me would have gone the way my editor suggested). But I think it’s very valid what people say as it’s something that works or doesn’t for readers. Lots of people dig it. Some don’t. But that’s cool. That’s what makes writing so fun. It’s all about choices. I wanted this to be a book about love because I wrote it in China while in love and a lot of the strange feelings I had at that time are expressed in the writing. Still, I love these balanced and honest reviews and really appreciate this really cool review that help me to not only grow as a writer, but really ponder the significance of each story. Thanks Zoe!
“Cultural dichotomy is ideal for magic realism.” -The Magic Realism Blog Reviews Watering Heaven (Also, a note on when I agree with critiques by reviewers)