“If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.” ~Love in the Time of Cholera
I’ve cried twice in my life at the news of an author’s death. The first time was when I was in high school and a friend walked up to me and said, â€œThat author you like just died.â€ When I realized she meant Isaac Asimov, I started crying right there, in the middle of lunch, in front of hundreds of uncaring classmates (a fact that did little to make my misunderstood soul any more understood by my peers.)
The second time is just over two weeks ago when I woke from a restless night to read that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had died. The cover of Love in the Time of Cholera still conjures a clear memory of me perched in my studio apartment devouring the novel over the course of two sun-drenched summer days, the rising heat lending a dreamy quality to the passing hours. I remember reading that famous last line, â€œForever, he saidâ€ and feeling that I was quite simply drunk on love, on language, on the bittersweet beauty of human experience. I immediately immersed myself in everything that Marquez had written, glorying in the sheer sensuality and song that underlies all his work.
It’s been twenty some years since that first fateful encounter and, even as an avid reader, I have yet to encounter another author who can elicit that same heady blend of euphoria, grief, and breathtaking beauty. To read Marquez is to enter into a dream, both haunting and lovely, a world bordering on the impossible and brimming with promise. His titles aloneâ€”One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Of Love and Other Demonsâ€”are stories unto themselves evoking both the fantastical and the real while hinting at the profound themes explored within.
I am, of course, not alone in my adoration of Marquez’ works and news of his death was accompanied by tears the world over. Indeed, his influence on not only readers but also other writers can be seen far and wideâ€”a fact that led me to think about those YA authors whose work captures the spirit of Marquez’s magical realism.