Up from Down Under: A Short Story Collection

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Rogers, N. Abigail
Issue Date
School of Letters Thesis, 2018 , School of Letters, University of the South , Realist short stories , Magical realism , Power of imagination , Magic , Transformation
"Up from Down Under” is a collection of realist stories with an occasional smattering of magical realism. This collection seeks to demonstrate what happens when characters impose their imaginations on their environment or other characters around them. Each story explores the power of the imagination to render reality magical. They reveal the power imagination has to overcomplicate or clarify reality. In some cases, this exploration is overt; in other cases, it is more subtle. The magic is often the product of the character’s mind; but there are obvious moments when the writer/character line gets blurred (such as in “A True Story”). I draw my inspiration from writers such as Charles Dickens, Flannery O’Connor, Steven Millhauser, Steven Sherrill, and Raymond Carver. Dickens and O’Connor’s work is aglow with magical suggestions, while the magical element in Millhauser’s “A Visit” and Sherrill’s The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time is more pronounced. Carver’s “Cathedral” is magical in the sense that the main character undergoes an amazing transformation in the course of an evening. At the end of the story, “the blind man” is teaching Robert—the narrator—to “see” a cathedral, as only a blind man can. The ending is one of the best examples of real magic at play in the tangles of human life. Because magic involves transformation, it is often at its most profound and magical when it is at its most human.