Monday, April 21, 2014

Love In The Time of Cholera - Literary Inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Paperback Cover
If you're short on inspiration, hope, or maybe even hopelessly depressed, take a deep cleansing breath and start reading this book. You just might forget your own troubles and commiserate with the victim in this story's opening paragraph, or you might try to identify with its main character, Dr. Urbino, and find your own romantic truth along the way. Even better, you might be inspired to write a great romance story of your own.

Love in the Time of Cholera inspired this blogger to continue writing. But readers of romantic novels, beware. This is not your ordinary love story, which neatly fits into the prolific genre of romance novels depicting a myriad of superficial happenings. It is first and foremost a literary masterpiece whose 1982 Nobel Literature Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, published in 1985 to great acclaim.
If you like Kafka, Faulkner, or even Tolstoy, you'll enjoy Marquez because these are the authors who inspired him to become a novelist, and their influence is quite apparent throughout Marquez's work, albeit with his Spanish heritage, flair and journalistic sensibilities firmly in place. An astonishing, eclectic literary mix indeed.
One look at the Paperback book cover (above) says it all. Two hearts coming together as one, an annoying parrot, and someone peeking from a garden. All graphic elements within this story that subconsciously suggest the rumors, love affairs, and deceptions that lie ahead. Its opening paragraph is also just as revealing as it is enigmatic.

IT WAS INEVITABLE: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before. The Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, disabled war veteran, photographer of children, and his most sympathetic opponent in chess, had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.
As a fan of great opening lines, this has to be my all-time favorite, as Marquez deftly encapsulates the theme of this novel in one astounding sentence.  How can you not continue reading after an opening like this? What's even more miraculous is that almost every other sentence is just as intriguing. How does he do it? This is simply a book you cannot put down and therefore the perfect study for any student of literature at any level.

So much has been said about this story and about Marquez's writing, that it's almost futile to try to add anything else. Aside from Flannery O'Connor, I can't think of another writer who is as accessible to read and enjoy on so many levels as G.G. Marquez.

If you're an avid reader but have managed to miss this story, this author, for whatever reason, (perhaps the unfamiliar foreign name) you must give this story a chance. I'll admit, not unlike Toni Morrison, you'll have to be very diligent while reading Marquez's work, although his humor will quickly offset any misgivings I can promise you that much. He is Spanish after all and hails from the great tradition of the Don Quixote style of literature.

You can expect Marquez's work, this story in particular to be complex, intriguing, thought provoking, absorbing, and a multitude of other adjectives we can use to describe it, but above all, it is utterly amusing.

Enjoy it for all it's worth.

Hasta luego, Gabo, que descanses en paz, mi amigo.