Today, one of my favorite writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away. He greatly influenced my writing, my understanding of literature, and today, I feel like I’ve lost a friend.
We are friends … It’s a funny thing, writers. I mean, I feel like I get to know them, to understand how they think, to see what they see, and to understand what they loved, hated, and feared most in the world. In any other context, I would call that person my friend.
We’ve all had it where we lost one of our favorite writers. Most of my favorites are dead now. I had a dream of meeting Gabo (though I know this is kind of ridiculous), or at least, I hoped that somehow I could tell him how important he is to me. His short stories speak the most to me, stories like “Artificial Roses,” “There are no thieves in this town,” of course, “A very old man with enormous wings,” and so many more. His collections like Big Mama’s Funeral are weird, yet exciting, and the stories seem to find a way to tie together.
Influence, you say? I don’t see it. I think the very biggest thing that Garcia Marquez gave me was the license, the opportunity, to add wonder and the surreal to my work. I feel like he proved to me that sometimes the bizarre can speak more to real human emotions than straight realism.
And of course, that makes sense. There comes a place in the lives of characters, an emotional breaking point. They are emotions that cannot be said. Our poor and limited language tools aren’t sufficient, and they need to be expressed in a different way. Garcia Marquez’s use of magic and wonder in an oppressed and impoverished world, a world dominated by colonialism … somehow, it seems like it would be inappropriate, but it works. It’s dirty, it’s grimy, the world is so earthy, I believe it, and so, when he throws an angel onto the scene or he has characters that live forever or whatever he chooses to do, I don’t flinch. I jump on board because he has caught me in his world.
Not just Magical Realism. And that’s one of the things about Garcia Marquez. It wasn’t all magical realism. That’s the biggest thing he’s known for, but the fact is, the man could write compelling, believable, and flawed characters. And he had such a sense of place. When I read 100 Years of Solitude, I felt like I knew the town of Macondo. I knew the people. I could see the houses, the streets, the trees. The man could wholly immerse me in a dream, and that’s what his stories were like: dreams.
Maybe let someone else speak. Well, I don’t know. I’m very sad he’s gone. His impact on me, his opening up of my eyes to fresh ways of writing and reading I will always be thankful for. I’ve written a lot about Garcia Marquez on this site, and because I have Google Analytics connected to this site, whenever I’d see that I got some hits from Mexico City, I liked to pretend it was him.