By Nora Vasconcelos
It happens some times that readers become as attached to the authors as they are to their characters and stories. This happened to me with the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927 -2014) whose books have accompanied me for several years now.
I remember that I was still a little girl when Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, back then in 1982, “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”.
However, it was during my college years when his work captivated me. Despite the general advice that I should start with One hundred years of solitude, I went directly to read Love in the time of cholera. A good friend of mine had said I should read it and I still recall that afternoon when I was walking around the crowded streets of the city center in Mexico city when I came across a special edition that was being sold at a news stand. I bought it and started to read it as soon as I got home.
A few days later I had already finished reading the book, and I then I called my friend to tell him: ‘I owe you a debt of gratitude”. Love in the time of cholera took my mind traveling all along the some times uneasy terrains and some times exotic lands of Colombia, while the main characters Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza struggled with sickness, travels, distrust and yes, also with love.
The richness in Garcia Marquez words painted colorful scenes throughout all the novel, taking me inside this imaginary world which, once inside, seemed at the same time unbearably real and incredibly fantastic. But the best thing this book gave me was its ending. Many years have passed now, and to me, it’s contains the best ending I’ve ever read, nothing else could have been more perfect than the last words written by Garcia Marquez at the end of this novel.
Ever since I became a faithful reader of his work, which taught me not only about life in Colombia (the imaginary and the real one, both depicted by Garcia Marquez), but also I learned about the craft of writing and discovered through his stories how majestic words could be and what magnificent stories could be produced by the “simple” act of writing.
Lucky me, I’ve read his books in Spanish, and even though translations are available, it’s hard to reproduce the magic that these stories have in its original language. This has made me love Spanish even more, as well as appreciate the hard work of the translators.
Many titles by Garcia Marquez come to my mind right now, but I should say that my second favorite is Living to tell the Tale, the first part of his memoirs in which he describes his first years as a young journalist trying to make a name for himself, chasing the news and composing compelling stories that later would be the beginning of a prolific career as a writer.
Years have passed since I read this book and I’m still able to smell the ink of the old news paper presses described in the book and I can feel the excitement that comes with every new story, as Garcia Marquez wrote it in his book. As a writer and a journalist these memoirs are priceless to me.
Now, “Gabo”, as he was affectionately called by his friends and readers in Latin America, is gone, and I’m still having a hard time to process the news, but I find some comfort knowing that his books will be always around to keep us company. And somehow, I have the idea that wherever he’s now, he’ll keep on writing all sort of stories, even if only for infinity to read them.