I decided not to read any obit pieces on him. One landed in my inbox and, unfortunately, with more than a link. The prose was so heavy with its own purpose in life that I decided to let it rest. Only Gabriel Garcia Márquez could do a Márquez.
It is a bit sad that he was labelled as a magic realist, although it is not a genre. He pioneered the technique, which again I find simplistic and limiting. A technique in literature is something you deliberately use, and he did, especially creating and uncreating things and giving them a character. In fact, making them into characters. For me, this is not much different from stream of consciousness, except that it is an externalised monologue addressed to an image outside – a place suspended, bleeding carcasses, illness, recovery.
You can have a lot of fun with Márquez’s works because nothing is static. It is a maze that you do not want to get out of. The challenge is in staying there. In some ways he is a difficult read because you are likely to deceive yourself. You mark a page, and you might never return to it with the same story in your head.
Not too different from this in ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’:
“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else's heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”
How delicate and yet imagine not being able to approach the one so desired.
I am not particularly keen on tedious explanations about the process of writing, but occasionally it can be quite revealing. As in his interview that appeared in The Art of Fiction. No. 69, 1981. Márquez’s earlier role as journalist is of particular interest.
“In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That's the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.”
This is so true to the bone. The novelist has the advantage of not being responsible towards any reality. We believe in the cocoon.
A Columbian who needed a special visa to enter the United States, something that bothered him a great deal, he was deeply, if not overtly, political.
“I would have liked for my books to have been recognized posthumously, at least in capitalist countries, where you turn into a kind of merchandise.”
It happened during his lifetime, but sometimes it is wise not to dismiss all merchandise when you chance upon the rare piece of stone from a bottomless ocean on a glittery shelf.
And then to reach out...
“Leaf Storm was written for my friends who were helping me and lending me their books and were very enthusiastic about my work. In general, I think you usually do write for someone.”
It is so much more intimate than talking about reader profile and audience expectations. How precious to write for somebody, an ode that when made public becomes an expression of timeless feelings and acknowledgement.
One hundred years of solitude...reflected in another.
© Farzana Versey
The time when there were objections to his work being made into a film: Marquez's Whores and a Porn Star