I normally shy away from anything having to do with literary theory, but, intending to read several of the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, when I saw this brief work in a bookstore I bought and read it on a flyer. It turned out to be surprisingly good and useful.
Bowers presents and discusses three distinct variants -- magic realism, magical realism, and marvellous realism -- and she does so without undue pedantry. She also distinguishes magic(al) realism from surrealism, the fantastic, and science fiction. By way of illustration and application of its theoretrical principles, the book contains relatively extended and constructive discussions of works of, inter alia, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende (principally "The House of Spirits"), Salman Rushdie (mainly "Midnight's Children"), Toni Morrison (chiefly "Beloved"), Gunther Grass ("The Tin Drum"), and Maxine Hong Kingston.
To my mind, there still is some nonsense -- although much of it undoubtedly is that of other literary theorists/critics whom Bowers is obliged to cover in this survey work. Thankfully, the book is relatively light on (although not entirely free of) the dense and syntactically tortured academic jargon that pervades so much literary theory and criticism. (An example, which Bowers unfortunately and unhelpfully quotes: "Magic realist works * * * bear witness to their liberation from a teleological and homogeneous historical discourse and to an acceptance of postcolonial heterogeneity with regard to historiography and to myth." Why does anyone who wishes to be read write like that? More baffling, why does anyone publish such stuff?)
I can recommend MAGIC(AL) REALISM to any lay reader interested in the literary construct(s) at issue or as background for someone about to embark on a serious reading/study of authors such as Garcia Marquez, Allende, Rushdie, and Grass.