What Is True?

Ever since I read my first Isabel Allende book, I have been in love with her stories, her history and the way that words transform in her hands. Not only is she a very special writer but her words are full of wisdom and her deeds, dedicated to kindness.

Allende’s beautiful use of magical realism does not blur the line between reality and fantasy, instead it completely eradicates the line. Fantasy becomes an unquestionable, undoubted reality, a magical realism.

I wanted to share something Allende wrote, in answer to her question, “what is true?”

What Is True?

People often ask me how much truth there is in my books and how much I have invented. I could swear that every word is true. If it has not happened, it certainly will. I can no longer trace a line between reality and fantasy. Before I was called a liar. Now that I make a living with these lies, I am called a writer. Maybe we should simply stick to poetic truth.

In The Book of Embraces, Eduardo Galeano has a short story that I love. To me, it is a splendid metaphor of writing:

There was an old and solitary man who spent most of his time in bed. There were rumors that he had a treasure hidden in his house. One day some thieves broke in, they searched everywhere and found a chest in the cellar. They went off with it and when they opened it they found that it was filled with letters. They were the love letters the old man had received all over the course of his long life. The thieves were going to burn the letters, but they talked it over and finally decided to return them. One by one. One a week. Since then, every Monday at noon, the old man would be waiting for the postman to appear. As soon as he saw him, he would start running and the postman, who knew all about it, held the letter ready in his hand. And even St. Peter could hear the beating of that heart, crazed with joy at receiving a message from a woman.”

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