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Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), 1982 Nobel Prize-Winning Author From Colombia, and Author of "100 Years of Solitude"

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The great Magical Realism author Gabriel Garcia Márquez died today at age 87. He is one of the few authors that wrote a passage so strong, that I remember where I was when I read it. Márquez is one of my primary influencers as a writer, although I shouldn't call myself a "writer" in the same sentence with his name.

From "One Hundred Years Of Solitude," at the moment when José Arcadio Buendí­a, son of Úrsula Iguarán, dies from a mysterious gunshot wound:

"A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendí­a's house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Ürsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread. "Holy Mother of God!" Ürsula shouted."

From this passage alone, the reader knew, beyond any doubt, that Ürsula was fully aware it was her son that died. This may be his most famous passage, and "One Hundred Years Of Solitude" is required reading, but it does Márquez a great injustice not to explore him in much greater depth. The short story, for example, "The Incredible and Sad Tale Of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother," found here, can be read in one evening, and is every bit as profound (in Spanish, "Innocent Eréndira" is written as "Cándida Eréndira," and the story is a riff on Candide by Voltaire). I wrote a passage from it the first night I ever met Chris Cunningham.

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Oh no.  I have goosebumps reading that passage and thinking about the story.  Cien Años de Soledád was the first novel I read in Spanish, and I remember stopping on the first sentence and setting the book aside for months.  Truly.  I read only the first sentence.  I had to look up the word for firing squad, and knew somehow that I had misunderstood his father taking him to see the ice, so I was certain there was no hope for me to ever understand it.  I'm so happy I picked it back up, and I'm simply stunned that he is gone.  We have lost one of the greats.   

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On 4/17/2014 at 5:55 PM, lperry said:

Oh no.  I have goosebumps reading that passage and thinking about the story.  Cien Años de Soledád was the first novel I read in Spanish, and I remember stopping on the first sentence and setting the book aside for months.  Truly.  I read only the first sentence.  I had to look up the word for firing squad, and knew somehow that I had misunderstood his father taking him to see the ice, so I was certain there was no hope for me to ever understand it.  I'm so happy I picked it back up, and I'm simply stunned that he is gone.  We have lost one of the greats.   

Well, if you could explain it to me (I remember that first sentence well, but have never really understood it), I would very much appreciate it - I think in my version (the translator was Gregory Rabassa) it said "to discover ice," but I'm going from memory that's at least twenty years old.

I taught myself enough Spanish *just* so I could read some of Marquez's short stories in his native language, if that says anything about my respect for the man.

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^ I'm not sure what it means either, but I think it was one of those sentences that was crafted to be both memorable and to let the reader know that s/he would be in for an interesting ride.  

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"One Hundred Years of Solitude" was a magnificent, magical tale that I will never forget.

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