Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez sigue

"The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole."

Those aren't my words; they're from Gabriel García Márquez, who's given us some of the greatest in any language.

QEPD = Que en Paz Descanse is the Spanish equivalent to "rest in peace." After I posted notes about Marquez passing, an Anglo friend sent me condolences: "Lo siento," he said, "sorry."

I'll say the sentiment was good, but the intended audience was too narrow. Latinos don't need condolences from Anglos, about Márquez's death. He belongs to the world's peoples and in that sense, is relevant and part of us all.

Márquez, a political creature
There's the tendency to mention magical realism whenever Márquez's name comes up. That bothers me as an indirect slotting of his work, like it was "only" an example of latinoamericano speculative literature. Anymore than Crime and Punishment should be called genre horror or thriller. Some works and writers defy delimiting, like Márquez and his works. However much he defined magical realism, he also shred that envelope, passing into the realm of Classic.

Here's more of his words, not usually quoted:
The world must be all fucked up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.
I don’t think you can write a book that’s worth anything without extraordinary discipline.
With The Thousand and One Nights, I learned and never forgot that we should read only those books that force us to reread them.
Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.
If men gave birth, they'd be less inconsiderate.
The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.

Whatever type of reader you are, you haven't lived unless you've experienced at least one of Márquez's epics. Below are the openings to two novels. Go outside somewhere by yourself, read them once for meaning, sentido, then read them aloud for the music. This might make you wonder if you should read the entire book. You should.

from Love in the Time of Cholera:

(translation): It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before. The Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, disabled war veteran, photographer of children, and his most sympathetic opponent in chess, had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.

from One Hundred Years of Solitude:
Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo. Macondo era entonces una aldea de veinte casas de barro y cañabrava construidas a la orilla de un río de aguas diáfanas que se precipitaban por un lecho de piedras pulidas, blancas y enormes como huevos prehistóricos. El mundo era tan reciente, que muchas cosas carecían de nombre, y para mencionarlas había que señalarlas con el dedo.

a children's book on Márquez
(translation): Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, General Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.

Esquire re-posted a Márquez short story, The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother that you can read in full.

I'm not sad Márquez died. He was mortal and reached a logical end. I don't know how his last weeks, months, years were, given a cancer he suffered; perhaps he was grateful to end his time, even. But before that, he left his people, his species, with enough to prove that he'd been here and done good. Great. Phenomenal. So, while his energy has left his body, some remains locked in his prose, to be shared by those to come.

Salud al maestro Marquez!


Peg Brantley said...

Fabulous. Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

Glad you liked it, PegB. It's difficult attempting to say anything about this man and his works, when all you have are your own words.