Everybody knows that Gabriel García Márquez is a great story-teller. I discovered him when I was 15. One of my favourite teachers lent me the famous “One Hundred Years of Solitude” saying: “Look, this is one the best books in the world! Read it and you will see why”! And he was right. By that time I did not label García Márquez’s style as “magic realism”, but I felt the book magic from its first pages.
When I turned 50 I re-read the book for the fifth time. I never get tired of it. Each time I perceive new meanings behind the words and the book story refreshes with each new reading.
There are writers we love from whom we learn a lot, but none of them has given me a similar reading pleasure, the one of holding the book in my hands and enjoying each word and paragraph.
García Márquez’s story-telling art
I recently read for the second time “Living to Tell the Tale” (Vivir para contarla), which is just the first volume of his autobiography, a book written with his heart about his childhood memories. Once more I believe that memory helps us shape our identity and our life’s meaning.
The book is not like any other autobiographies. While reading we witness a boy growing until he becomes a journalist. The book tale goes back and forth through years and the author eye-witnesses all major historical events: revolutions, dictatorships, and counter-coups.
While reading I felt that I sat at a table with García Márquez. He was able to establish a warm dialogue with me as his tale weaves magically from the first to the last word of the book. The book narrative flows along with breath-taking descriptions of his home place, in a Columbian region far away from the real restless world. García Márquez’s world turns into a magic place, which is mostly ruled by his child perceptions.
He had a large family around, with many women who were very important to him. His family, relatives and friends are portrayed in detail with funny or embarrassing moments. The writer recounts ancient beliefs which governed the family life along with his love for books and desire for learning.
García Márquez does not make any effort to remember details of his early life. While accompanying his mother to sell the childhood house, the surroundings helped him get back to those early years and catch the memories from the back of his mind.
Simple structure, humble words and aboriginal poetry
The author masters the power of making the reader feel what he experienced as a child and young man. Despite the times’ shortages and soreness, he seemed to be happy with his family who did not clearly separated reality and mystical aspects of their lives.
This book is very closed to my heart. One can easily spot García Márquez’s feelings and emotions, which are naturally shared without any artificial flavour and efforts. His sincere narrative and style make the book credible. I believe this is the reason of why he is known as one of the best world writers.
The more I read and re-read García Márquez’s books the more I discover the rich narrative behind the words. Because of books’ simple structure and humble words supporting an aboriginal poetry, García Márquez stays as an author I can forever read without getting tired or bored.
Michael Wood said that the “Living to Tell the Tale” book suggests “that the world this writer grew up in was effectively a García Márquez novel before he even touched it” (London Review of Books, 3 June 2004, p. 3).
I share three favourite quotes from García Márquez’s book:
Today, trying to recount my past days, I do not find them in my recollection, and I have come to believe more in forgetting than in memory.
There are books that do not belong to the person who writes them but to the one who suffers them.
Life is not what one lived but rather what one remembers, and how it is remembered to tell the tale.
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