David Soto Writes

I think I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Tag: magical realism

5 Magical Realism Recommendations

Magical Realism – a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction

I published a “life changing” novel post a while ago and thought it was time for an update, but I wanted to do something a little different this time. I have been in a Magical Realism phase for a while now. Not only reading it but writing it as well. When I thought of writing a list of favorite Magical Realism novels, I realized that I first experienced most of my favorites as movies. In fact, three of the four below I didn’t even know were books until just a few months ago, which is weird because two of them heavily inspired the writing on my own Magical Realism novella even though I hadn’t read them.

Milagro Beanfield War By John Nichols

I was first exposed to this story in the 80s in the form of a rented VHS from the Warehouse Records and Tapes. I loved Robert Redford’s adaptation so much I that watched it anytime I could in the following years. So much so that it got to the point that my father said to me, “Not this dumb movie again!”

Just a few months ago, I was in a bookstore in Boulder, CO and this book was facing out on a shelf at my eye level. I was in shock. What! Was it a book? I thought. I bought it and made it my next read. I’m glad I did because it got me back into magical realism and inspired the story that became my first published piece of fiction, Los Chocolates De Esperanza Diamanté.

Big Fish By Daniel Wallace

One of my top five all-time favorite movies is Tim Burton’s version of this book. I love it so much that it is one of the ten DVDs that I own. Never has the ending not brought a tear to my eye.

I saw this movie when it first came out in 2003, so I was pretty shocked to see it was a book just a few weeks ago. I bought it right away and added to my bookshelf.

The book is a little different but in good ways. It’s funnier for one. I laughed so much more. One significant similarity is that I got a little teary-eyed in the end.

Like Water For Chocolate By Laura Esquivel

One Christmas in the early 90s my mother rented this movie because I’m pretty sure, it was in Spanish, and it was something my grandparents could watch.

I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t think much of it for several more years. Then, as I traveled to Mexico and began to study Spanish, I began hearing of the book over and over again. I eventually bought the Spanish version of the book was determined to read it in its original form. I didn’t. But I did watch the movie and again and found it quite enjoyable. By this time I had discovered Magical Realism and was more appreciative of the film.

Wanting to engulf myself with more Magical Realism books I sought out this one at the used bookstore. When I finally got to it, I couldn’t believe how much it influenced my novella. The odd thing was that I had just finished my manuscript. Could I be have been influenced by something I hadn’t yet read?

Chocolat By Joanne Harris

Again, another movie I fell in love with that I did not know was a book first. This story of a single mother who does the most unheard of things, open a chocolate shop in a small French town right at the start of Lent. This was the second book that I read that causes me to pause and realize that even though I hadn’t read it, it was a big influence on my story about a woman and chocolate.

Stories of Eva Luna By Isabel Allende

As a minimalist, I get rid of books after I read them. Sometimes I give them away. Sometimes I sell them back to the used bookstore. I do not collect them like trophies, though I used to. I refuse to give up this book, though. I loved it so much that I want to share it. I want to read it aloud to a lover in bed, and I fully intend to. That’s why I am keeping it.

From the moment I read the first page of the first story, I was in love with it. The thing about magical realism is that every now and then I read something so beautiful it makes me stop and reflect, and say wow. If I am lucky, it will happen once in a book, which makes it totally worth it to me. In this book in happened on the first page and continued all throughout the book.

A Little Girl’s Dream – Chapter 1

The Whore, Marisol Rivera, Los Chocolates

Available on Amazon!

While most little girls dreamed of becoming teachers, actresses, or nurses, Marisol Rivera dreamt of one day becoming a whore. Like a boy who looked in awe at a soldier or police officer, Marisol would fixate on prostitutes. She could spot one even when they weren’t in uniform. During the day, whores didn’t look like whores. They looked like every other woman, but not to Marisol.

An off-duty working girl could be walking down the street carrying groceries, and the little girl would stop in her tracks and curiously stare at the woman as if she were looking at two stray dogs humping. Marisol would often get snatched out of her daze by her mother pulling on her hand.

“Let’s go, Marisol,”  her mother, Elena, would say, frustrated that she had to retrace her steps to retrieve the six-year-old.

“Who is that lady, Mami?” Marisol asked.

“I don’t know,” her mother said, lying. She knew who she was. She knew who they all were. Everyone knew. Elena couldn’t comprehend why every person her daughter became captivated by in the streets of Colón was a prostitute. Just once she would have liked to have caught her daughter staring at a beggar or a drunk. Elena handled these situations like the time Marisol had walked in on her and Marisol’s father making love—she ignored that it ever took place with hopes that Marisol would some day forget all about it.

“What’s a whore, Mami?” Marisol asked one day after learning the word from someone at school.

The question caused Elena to drop her crocheting needles and bring her fingers to her temple. “It’s a woman who brings pleasure to men for money,” saying the first thing that came to her mind then resuming her project.

“It’s her job?”

“Yes, it’s her job,” Elena said not bothering to look up at the girl for fear of encouraging her to further discuss the topic.

“That’s what I want to be when I grow up!”

Frustrated but keeping her composure, Elena responded, “Well, that’s impossible. Some day you’ll go to college, and any woman who goes to college does not become a whore.”

“Oh,” Marisol said somewhat disappointed. “What will I be then?”

“You can be anything you want,” Elena said. “Anything but a whore.”

“Can I be a doctor like Papi?”

“Yes!” Elena said, thanking God for intervening.

The end of the conversation brought relief to Elena but not to Marisol for she did not want to be a doctor. She wanted to be a whore.

As time went on Marisol learned to appease her parents by doing well in school and saying that she wanted to become a doctor all the while taking every opportunity she could to learn about the trade that really interested her.

Pedro, a childhood friend who used to play in the dirt with Marisol, was her first customer. “What could I do to bring you pleasure, Pedro?” Marisol asked as if she were taking notes.

“Maybe bring some chocolate next time we play.”

What does a boy so young know of pleasure? Marisol knew he was not ready. Her research would have to wait, but it didn’t take long. One day, Marisol noticed Pedro ogling at a pair of bouncing breasts as a woman in high-heeled shoes walked down the street. Ah ha, Marisol thought.

“How much would you pay to see my chi-chis?” she asked Pedro.

It wasn’t until Marisol grew breasts that she was able to sustain a business of flashing them for twenty-five centavos a show.

As her body developed and the curiosity of her customers grew, Marisol learned much about being in the business of pleasing men for money. One of the things she learned was that members of the opposite sex would pay nearly anything to live out their deepest desires, but that they would only tell her those desires if they trusted her. Marisol became skilled at gaining their confidence. She never told anyone’s mother and never shared anyone’s little secrets. Plus, she never got caught, which meant she never had to disclose who her patrons were.

Part of the reason why no one ever discovered Marisol’s side business was that she was smart enough to know that she could not have all that money without a good reason for obtaining it. Being the daughter of a doctor, Marisol had little use for money, though she did enjoy earning it. The church became the benefactor of most of her earnings. It only seemed appropriate being that a lot of her business took place in an unoccupied confessional.

Because of her mother’s vague answer to Marisol’s question, “What’s a whore, Mami?” and the Church’s teachings of the transgressions of sex before marriage, it never occurred to the young girl that prostitutes had sex for money. Marisol’s practice allowed her to learn many methods of how to give a man pleasure, but when it came to intercourse, that was simply out of the question. It was a sin, after all.


If you liked what you read,  click here to get the rest of the book for your Kindle or with the Kindle App

The Introduction of Esperanza Diamanté

They once hated Esperanza Diamanté, these women who gathered in front of her chocolate shop. Now, now they admired her almost to the point of worship. But they felt pity for her too. Not just today’s handful of women, but all of the women who ate her chocolates. For since the day she’d arrived in Barra, seven years before, Esperanza Diamanté had not yet taken a lover.

It was three minutes till two on Saturday afternoon. The women were waiting for Esperanza to open her shop, as they always did. The store’s massive floor-to-ceiling doors opened at two sharp every day, and by two-thirty, the goods were sold out. None of the women waiting were first-time customers. Many had been buying Esperanza’s chocolates from the beginning.

They’d had no reason to hate her when she first arrived. No reason other than what they made up in their heads. She came to town on a Monday. The flood of people that had poured in for Semana Santa was receding. The busses were arriving nearly empty, but leaving completely full. For the rest of the year, until the next Semana Santa, the small fishing village of Barra de Navidad would be a ghost town.

As soon as Esperanza stepped off the bus, rumors started spreading. It was her raw beauty that struck fear more than hate into the women of the village. If Esperanza didn’t steal their husbands, she would at least steal their husbands’ attention.

In the short time it took for Esperanza to walk from the bus station to Doña Luz’s old bakery, the whole town became aware of the strange, beautiful, husband-stealing woman who had just arrived.

She was so beautiful that sections of the village seemed to freeze in time as she walked by. Even after she passed, it took several seconds for people to thaw out and resume their normal activities.

She carried two old leather bags, which contained everything she owned. Her long, black hair draped over her bare shoulders. Her white cotton blouse had elastic at the top and bottom. The top of her blouse was pulled down, exposing her shoulders, and the bottom fit snugly just under her breasts. The material was sheer enough to leave no mystery about the color and size of her nipples. Even though the blouse was baggy, you could see that she was well endowed, a chichona.

From the bottom of her blouse to the top of her skirt’s waistband was nothing but exposed brown skin. If one got close enough, one could see a light trail of hair, bleached by the sun, that led from her belly button to deep, down into her panties, had she been wearing any. Her skirt was made of the same simple cotton as her blouse, but dyed turquoise. It flowed from her waist all the way down to her feet. Unlike her blouse, the skirt did leave a mystery of what her body looked like underneath, unless the sun gave away her secret. She had the exact top and skirt in her luggage, except her second skirt was red. These two skirts and blouses, a black shawl, and the bathing suit she’d bought the day before were the only clothes she had in her possession, the only clothes she owned.

On her feet were the only items that did not resemble those of a peasant girl. They were finely handmade leather thong sandals that had pieces of turquoise with red specks on the strap that went from her ankle to between her toes. The ankle strap had little silver charms that hung down and made a little jingle as she walked. It was as if the sandals were meant to draw the attention away from her figure or her piercing green eyes, but it was useless. Even her feet were arousing. They were flawless, except that her second toe was longer than her big toe. But even this flaw was appealing. As anyone knows, this is a sign of a passionate lover.

Her beauty was so prominent, so bold, that she not only stole the attention of the men in town, but that of the women as well.

This was all in the past now. The women of the village not only loved and respected her, but they trusted her. They no longer feared she would steal their husbands. In seven years she had not only not stolen anyone’s husband, but hadn’t even taken an available man to her bed. More than anything else, they revered her because of her chocolates and the pleasure they brought.

It was two p.m. when the ladies heard the metal bolt on the other side of the giant doors unlatch. Both doors simultaneously swung open. There she was, the beautiful Esperanza, with her green eyes, black hair, white cotton blouse, red skirt, and fancy sandals. “Pásanle, mujeres. There are plenty of chocolates for all of you.”


If you like what you read, feel free to get the rest of the story on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and Kobo!

© 2017 David Soto Writes

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑