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Sunday, April 20, 2014

One Hundred Years of Gratitude

I don't know how old I was when I first read Gabriel García Márquez, but I do know that it was in parents' house, the one they lived in before their current house that they've lived in for 26 years now. I was in either high school or college. I remember that after I finished the book I walked around the house aimlessly; I wandered into my parents' room and looked at their bookshelf, their bedspread, and wondered, "How can everything look the same when nothing will ever be the same again?"

I had just read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I had picked it off the library shelves because I had liked the title. I had not before heard of García Márquez, had not been assigned to read his work. I actually thought I had discovered an unknown writer and that I must tell everyone. I thought either he was brilliant or I was naïve. Turns out I was right on both accounts.

There have not been that many writers whose work has changed me as fundamentally as García Márquez, whose writing has made me look at what is possible to do with words, who have caused me to step back from reality in order to describe reality.

I immediately returned to the library to get Love in the Time of Cholera, which was published in 1985. So I was in college. Solves that mystery.

Gabriel García Márquez was a brave writer, an endlessly moral person, a strong believer in his own work and what it could do for his region though he refused to sacrifice fine writing for political content (rejecting that false dichotomy), and there is as much to learn from his life as there is from his writing. I am grateful to him for his body of work, one that makes it easier to live in this world and make sense of it all by letting go of sense. And now we have to let go of him, and that too makes no sense. As it never does. Thank you, Gabriel García Márquez.