After writing yesterday's post, I did a quick Google search for "dark magical realism". I wanted to be sure I wasn't misusing the term or lost in literary left field. The search produced 127 hits (that is with quotation marks around the phrase...the only way to find that exact search string).
One of the sites referred to a book about Neil Gaiman's work on Sandman. Okay...not exactly what I think of when I use the phrase "dark magical realism". Gaiman's Sandman work leaned heavily on mythology. The first two sites on the list didn't even refer to the phrase intact. (e.g. a sentence ended with the word "dark" and "magical realism" started the next sentence)
Now I know the modifier "dark" isn't necessary. Magical realism has become a large enough literary umbrella that it has plenty of space for darkness. But I do think there is an important difference between a story like Julio Cortázar's "House Taken Over" (what I would consider a seminal work of dark magical realism) and Márquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings". One instills a quiet sense of discomfort; the other, wonder.
Some argue that magical realism doesn't exist at all...it's just another name for fantasy. (Terry Pratchett was quoted as saying "[magic realism] is like a polite way of saying you write fantasy.")
I disagree. Fantasy means something to people, even in rule-bending contemporary fantasy. Personally, I expect fantastical creatures or worlds or at least the suggestion of those things. Magical realism doesn't go so far...at least not in my understanding. It is more subtle, and in being so, more strange. I can suspend my disbelief just that much more when a story makes subtle changes to my real world. When those changes are dark, I find it even more unsettling. Vampires don't scare me. Having something never mentioned by name take over my house, does.
Maybe I'm just splitting genre hairs. Mostly, the lack of "dark magical realism" hits on Google surprised me.