I am currently reading Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I'm about halfway through, and I'm enjoying it so far. That, however, is not the point of this post.
The novel is about Rose Edelstein, a girl who, the day before she turns nine, develops the talent (receives the curse?) of being able to taste emotions in food. The flap copy assures me that Bender's prose "illuminates the strangeness of everyday life."
I'm all for strange, but whose everyday life includes anything like this? I feel pretty certain this is a speculative fiction novel, but perhaps my everyday life just isn't strange enough.
This reminds of a definition I was once given of magical realism. I was told, "well, it's like fantasy, but it's usually written by Catholics, or people from Catholic countries, so they actually expect that sort of thing to happen, because it does all the time in their religion."
You know, I've been Catholic my whole life, but if some girl resurrects at her funeral, and follows that trick with levitating out of her coffin, a la Christina Mirabilis, I am going to think words that I don't normally say in church, not, "Oh yes, this sort of thing happens all the time. Carry on."
It's called a miracle because it causes wonder, because it is strange, and very far from everyday.