Magical/Realism: Essays on Music, Memory, Fantasy, and Borders

Regular price $ 29.00

by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

Tiny Reparations Books

5/14/2024, hardcover

SKU: 9780593187142


A brilliant, singular collection of essays that looks to music, fantasy, and pop culture--from Beyoncé to Game of Thrones--to excavate and reimagine what has been disappeared by migration and colonialism.

Upon becoming a new mother, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was called to Mexico to reconnect with her ancestors and recover her grandmother's story, only to return to the sudden loss of her marriage, home, and reality.

In Magical/Realism, Villarreal crosses into the erasure of memory and self, fragmented by migration, borders, and colonial and intimate violence, reconstructing her story with pieces of American pop culture, and the music, video games, and fantasy that have helped her make sense of it all.

The border between the real and imagined is a speculative space where we can remember, or re-world, what has been lost--and each chapter engages in this essential project of world-building. In one essay, Villarreal examines her own gender performativity through Nirvana and Selena; in another, she offers a radical but crucial racial reading of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones; and throughout the collection, she explores how fantasy can help us interpret and heal when grief feels insurmountable. She reflects on the moments of her life that are too painful to remember--her difficult adolescence, her role as the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, her divorce--and finds a way to archive her history and map her future(s) with the hope and joy of fantasy and magical thinking.

Magical/Realism is a wise, tender, and essential collection that carves a path toward a new way of remembering and telling our stories--broadening our understanding of what memoir and cultural criticism can be.


"Magical/Realism is staggeringly good; it's been ages since I've been this moved, challenged, and devastated by an essay collection. An energetic, paradigm-shifting book." -- Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House

"Readers will be spellbound." -- Publishers Weekly, starred

"Villarreal possesses endless talent. As she connects the dots between the various extraordinary and mundane realisms that haunt our daily lives, she displays a poet's command of form, making this work sing with resonance. A banger." -- Camonghne Felix, author of Dyscalculia: A Love Story of Epic Miscalculation

About the Author:

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was born in the Rio Grande Valley to Mexican immigrants. She is the author of Beast Meridian, which received a Whiting Award, a Kate Tufts Discovery Award nomination, and the Texas Institute of Letters John A. Robertson Award. She was a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, and her work has appeared in The New York TimesHarper's BazaarThe Paris Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles with her son.