Garcia Marquez, RIP

Somebody — Pablo Neruda? — observed that the late Garcia Marquez was the most influential Spanish writer since Cervantes. Startling, but probably true.

Magical realism was such a great idea that it promptly got overdone. It’s potentially a rather serious matter to have encouraged the likes of Salman Rushdie, and our man will probably face some questioning on the subject at the Pearly Gates. But a guy is not responsible for his imitators, and St Peter will certainly clear him of all charges.

I have no idea whom G M admired among English writers, but it’s easy to imagine him striking up a very good friendship, on the further shore, with Lawrence Sterne.

His death evoked comments from at least three Presidents. Those of Colombia and Mexico were not especially original, but struck a suitable note. Here, however, is Unspeakable Bill Clinton:

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. From the time I read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ more than 40 years ago, I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty. He captured the pain and joy of our common humanity in settings both real and magical. I was honored to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years. My thoughts are with Mercedes and his family, and with his friends and admirers in Colombia and around the world.”

Exactly one hundred words, five of them being first person singular pronouns.

But of course our responses to books always are personal, if they’re real at all. Clinton’s observations are couched in such dull, banal terms that it’s difficult to believe he has any real love for stories and storytellers, or has given much thought to how one is different from another; but perhaps the stump-speech manner has just taken him over.

Perhaps there was a greener day for him, when a book could stir something more in his mind than a little rustling dust-devil of dry phrases, whirled up for a moment like leaves in Vallombrosa. Perhaps he remembered the day he read that wonderful opening(*). Was he really in love with Hillary then? She, with him? Did they still believe, in those days, that the world held better things in store for them than bombing Serbia, and carrying water for Israel, and electrocuting retarded people?

But return, Alpheus: the dread voice is past.

It was Comrade Paine, actually, who suggested 100 Years to me, and I read it on an overnight train, from Chicago to New York. Macondo will always be strangely mixed up, for me, with the little towns of the Hudson Valley, in the gray of dawn, after the kind of sleepless night that leaves you hearing bits of imaginary song in your ears.

(*) “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of 20 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.”

13 thoughts on “Garcia Marquez, RIP

  1. Peremptorily, I would like to say that this post has awakened my interest in this writer, especially since I have this site to thank for getting me to take the plunge into Nabokov and Austen.

    But what really stuck out to me was the portion asking the question, and even rephrasing this is making me fucking nauseous, whether he was…in love? With HRC? My theory: Bill is a guy who can’t say no to pussy. He didn’t say no to HRC, meaning he met up with her and she made him hug her on the campus quad and HRC had nabbed her husband. Done deal without even her having to give it up. She was saving sex for scientific purposes: the reason for sex is procreation, if we have no such desire to procreate then we should abstain. They had sex one time, created Chelsea, HRC felt put out by pregnancy and decided no more procreation, which means no more sex. So Bill’s been clumsily trying to find it elsewhere.

      • I’m really of the opinion that they are neither better or worse than most people I meet. I like to point up their foibles because we live in a terribly sycophantic society and these fucking moral and intellectual reprobates are treated like they’ve cured cancer. I try to tell people I know that they are much more admirable than these cretins just by the simple acts of kindness they exhibit to other people but I get treated like an asshole until I’m badgered enough to say that, hey, maybe they haven’t yet fully earned a Kennedy Center Honor or a slot at some TED talk. Really, I think underneath it all, it’s a, “let’s leave it to the professionals” mentality. And I fucking hate it, because there is no such thing as a ‘professional’ politician that could be anything but malignant.

        Also, MJS, have you seen the story floating around about the Russians forcing Ukrainian Jews to register or something of the sort? When I see this kind of stuff in mainstream pubs, it really makes me think that some higher ups are testing out the marketability of Russia as the new/old bad guy. All I know is that I’m fucking terrified of any sort of aggressive posturing by either country considering the status of the combined nuclear arsenals of both countries, which are still armed and ready just like back in the old days. And they are ready to launch at the slightest provocation.

        • Yeah, I saw the story about the supposed registration of Jews in the Eastern Ukraine. An obvious plant, I’d say. Probably right from Mossad HQ; Langley would never be imaginative enough, and the BND — fuhgeddaboutit, as we say in New York.

          Russsia certainly is, as you say, the ‘new-old bad guy’. It’s amazing how little has changed in the last century and half, though Germany did distract us for a while there. But I wouldn’t worry about the nukes. Posturing is as far as it will go on the part of the US-German axis. In the almost seventy years since the Bomb came to dwell among us, nobody has dropped one on somebody else who had one. And even Israel — even Israel! — hasn’t dropped one, even on people who *don’t* have one. You might say it’s the ultima irratio regum.

  2. I just love the name he chose: Buendía. Genius.

    As for the Clintons. The wretched Chelsea, who took to the life of wealth like a lion to a wildebeest, is pregnant. Hillary said that having a grandkid was more important to her than being president! She’d probably maim the poor kid if it meant she’d get to become killer-in-chief.

    • CUNY really is one of the most contemptible frauds on the face of the earth. I say this having worked there, not once but twice. It’s a vast and utterly cynical racket. Its executive and upper-professiorial cadre are for the most part a coterie of backscratching cronies. Middle management is a parking area for City bureaucrats temporarily out of office. It exploits the naivete of its students and the idealism of its frontline teachers.

      I was a galley slave in IT. Every decision taken in that hellhole clearly reflected utter contempt and unconcern for the customer, or ‘student’ as he is euphemistically called. CUNY, you see, is the last resort. Where else are these losers gonna go?

  3. You write software for a living? Jimmeny effing christmas. Your human-styled writing is dizzying enough. I think we humans wuz robbed by your industrial occupation.

    I apologize for dwelling on the insanity of the situation, but it does indeed remind of the question of why gawd created a garden with a serpent.

    • And although it is mainly focused on the availability of nuclear materials on the black market, the much more important parts are the ones dealing with the aging and undermanned nuclear defense systems, which as I keep mentioning to people are still on full alert, meaning that even if Russia doesn’t ever do anything provocative, we could all die in a nuclear holocaust from something as innocuous as an unreported weather balloon mistaken for an ICBM.

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