There aren’t many moments cemented more in literary memory than witnessing in my mind’s own cinema those white feathers falling from the arid sky over Jose Buendia’s funeral procession lumbering below down the dirt Labrynthian paths of Macondo, a ‘mirrored’ city just as mysterious and wrought with strife as the Buendia family's 100 years of struggle.
As a fourteen-year-old writer (yes, I was writing even at that tender age), I was haunted by the elder father Jose Buendia in One Hundred Years of Solitude bound to a monstrous tree, plauged by the phantasma of the man he had to kill to win the love of his wife--Ursula. She, the matriarch soothe-sayer, holding her grieving generations in her arms, becomes the progenitor of a literary legacy as none ever conceived in the history of writing. Yes, even in the annuls of the Dostoyevsky legion of saints and sinners, so rife with the open nerve honesty of an angst-ridden 1890's St. Petersburg, Fyodor, despite his genius, still left the lid on the oil paint box closed.
Mr. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an immediately natural magician, painted entire families, cities, and regions with his brand of supernatural rules. I remember carrying the book through the halls of my vacant high school; the dull peach walls devoid of art, the classrooms rumbling with adolescent talk--emptiness everywhere. But there in the back corner desk, I smiled, like I carried a special secret.
I did. Writing was more alive than it ever had been before.
All because of this very odd Colombian journalist, who was still in 1991, denied Visas to travel to America because of his close ties to Fidel Castro (they drank together). 80's covert war hungry America would have none of it.
Least to say, staring at the blank page in my spiral bound journal, my mind raced with images, both real and not. I wrote a story of these elixirs transforming the imbibers into the animals they truly were (no doubt an earlier experiment in writing about drunks).
The rules had changed; the written world was flipped upside down. Anything was possible. I dove more into this land, reading Love in The time Of Cholera during a train ride across the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain ten years later, earmarking the corners of a page as we pulled into the train station in San Sebastian.
Innocent Erendira, spoke to me in a used bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2003. The 1972 soft pink cover of the strange woman, head in her own lap, surround by laurel leaves, attracted me from the isle. I knew of his major works, but like any treasure, the discovery of it on your own changes the read. Another secret acquired.
Inside this collection of short fiction (actually titled: The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother) lies Death Constant Beyond Love, hands down a favorite short piece—again filled with characters facing their mortality. Marquez, the lyrical acrobat, Death Constant Beyond Love in other hands would never grant atonement for the philandering politician Senator Onesimo Sanchez. Neither would the audience gives him any sympathy, as he laid beside his scandalous relationship partner Laura Farina, a ‘moss’ smelling peasant girl given by her father in exchange for proper citizenship in Sanchez’s regime.
Oddly romantic, when the Senator lays near the young girl, in a sad embrace wryly smiling, he tells her:
“We are both Ares. It is the sign of Solitude". You cannot feel anything but an unexpected romanticism.
The last line is the killer: "Six months and eleven days later he would die in that same position, debased and repudiated because of the public scandal with Laura Farina, and weeping with rage at dying without her."
This is Marquez’s spear in the body of literature, less than inventing the widely embraced ‘magic realism’ style he is crowned, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s real talent is in making his characters, townships, and mythologies a stronger reality than our dull parade. Through brilliant colors, a total denial of physics, (as well as cynicism) and a keen gypsy understanding of the supernatural and cosmic world that surrounds us—in dreams or consciousness—made the literary universe more real than real.
Now 23 years later, I can think of no other living author who possesses this kind of insurgent shamanism in their work (save for Marquez’s Czech counter part, Milan Kundera, who is still scurrying around Parisian street at 85). The literary canon has undergone serious changes in the past 50 years, and still we wait for the new voices that will emerge and challenge this present status quo as much as Mr. Marquez had challenged his in his time.
As Samuel Johnson once wrote: “Men are generally idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the industry of others, by calling that impossible which is only difficult.”
THAT'S SENOR MARQUEZ TO YOU.
NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR TOO.
THIS GOT ME.
HEY AMERICA. GO FUCK YOURSELF!