Brady Dill | 2 min read
“Death really did not matter to him, but life did, and therefore the sensation he felt was not a feeling of fear but of nostalgia.”
-Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Márquez died this week. Author of Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and “The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings,” Márquez was a magical realist, a writer who depicts the supernatural elements of an otherwise mundane world—not my usual cup of tea (or coffee, which is happiness incarnate), for I am a-religious and have felt nothing I would name a “spiritual” experience. I tend to find beauty in concrete reality, and am of a disposition to dismiss spiritual experiences as nothing more than the result of a drafty mind. The shadows cast by a flickering candle-flame can take shapes, assume form in our eyes, but they are still nothing more than shadows. This is why it was particularly noteworthy that I not only finished but also enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is exactly as long as its title implies.
From my wee years to when I turned thirteen, I was slowly undergoing a metamorphosis—though a rather insanely avid reader, it took me nearly a decade to realize that I wanted to write fiction. Instead, I professed a desire to study quantum physics—to me, that field embodied the ultimate in beauty: a scientifically rigorous discipline fraught with mystery, a lack of understanding that I knew I could fill in over the course of my life. Though there was indeed a tipping point, a single book that made me say “Damn. OK, I’m becoming a writer now,” that book was just the final push toward a decision I’d been contemplating since I read a book that shattered my beliefs about the limits of storytelling: One Hundred Years of Solitude.
When the concept for Solitude, the work which would later garner him a Nobel Prize in Literature, struck Márquez, he cancelled his family’s vacation, sold his car so they could eat, and wrote every day for eighteen months until it was finished. The end story was offbeat, filled with strange and forgotten magics in a small town, tracking the Buendía family through a century of incest and war, love and hate. It was the first story I ever read which, when I finished it, I didn’t fully understand—there was something in this story that was greater than me, something I couldn’t quite grasp. The quantum physics of stories.
Márquez ignited my strongest and most lasting passion. His works (especially Memories of My Melancholy Whores) have been called many things, many uncouth, few unearned, but I call them one sharp and single word.