Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

When I was seventeen and my mother dropped me off at college orientation (and suggested I get a ride to the rest stop on 95 when it was over -- I was her 4th kid and she was kind over being oriented), I met an Argentinian student who heard I was a creative writing major and told me to read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I went home -- yes, I found a family from NJ willing to drop me at the rest stop -- and got the book. It changed my life. My feeling was that someone had actually DONE it, pulled it off -- I felt, in a deep way, that I was reading a novel for the first time. Before this moment, I'd wanted to write plays, but after this moment, I thought of the experience of a novel in a completely altered way. I wrote magical realism and then shifted away from it to write my own first novel (based on the interest of an agent; it was realism) and then when I wrote for younger audiences a few books later, it was like coming home to what I first fell in love with. For The Pure Trilogy, interviewers kept asking about my roots in science fiction and fantasy. No, my roots dig into the soil of Marquez. The birds embedded in Bradwell's back are a direct shout-out to Marquez; they wouldn't exist without him. In some ways, none of what I do could exist without his work. The other night -- just before the announcement of his death -- I was at dinner with friends and told the story from his memoir about him as a young man in Paris, spotting Hemingway walking away from him down the street. Marquez shouted out, "Maestro!" And without looking back, Hemingway waved. I always wanted to shout this to Marquez, "Maestro!" to get that wave. I'm so thankful that he was here, that he wrote, that his soul strides on, and that his worlds are still with us.
[Correction: Someone sent me the full account by Marquez written for the NYTimes and it's so much better than the way I recall it here.]