"Sometimes I cry because I feel like I'm losing him."
July 13, 2012 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Gabriel García Márquez has dementia and can no longer write. According to his brother, Jaime, the Nobel laureate author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera is suffering side effects from treatment for lymphatic cancer that have accelerated the onset of dementia, which runs in his family. García Márquez has not written anything since his last novel, Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores, in 2007. Among the works left uncompleted will be the second half of his autobiography Living to Tell the Tale.
posted by Cash4Lead (40 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The autobiography title coupled with the situation is kind of extremely heartbreaking.
posted by owtytrof at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, fuck.

Why does losing a writer like this always sting more?
posted by clvrmnky at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate this disease. It steals or screws with the essence of the people it attacks: words, emotions, sensations, memories. And then there are brief moments of clarity and horror at what is happening.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:19 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is sad news. But Marquez is in his eighties, so I don't know how many more novels we would have expected from him anyway.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 10:21 AM on July 13, 2012


A pleasant change for The Blue, where usually I find a handful of obits each day but today thus far only a reference to a fine writer who now has dementia.
posted by Postroad at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2012


Goddammit.
posted by rtha at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2012


Fritz Langwedge: This is sad news. But Marquez is in his eighties, so I don't know how many more novels we would have expected from him anyway.

We are not heartbroken because a favorite novel-mill has stopped producing books. We're heartbroken because a man almost unequaled at the delicate art of expressing both himself and humanity is being denied his ability due to disease.

Marquez deeply touched me with his writing. In a non-trivial way, I can even attribute to him the most important relationship in my life.
posted by gilrain at 10:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sad news indeed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:30 AM on July 13, 2012


Better get on it, George R. R. Martin!
posted by Renoroc at 10:32 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


,

(not a period yet, but definitely an opportunity to pause and reflect)

No one's said Fuck Cancer yet either.
posted by DigDoug at 10:41 AM on July 13, 2012


Having watched two very beloved grandparents die of dementia, my heart aches. So much brilliance, taken away in such a brutal fashion.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 10:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever read anything that astonished me more often than One Hundred Years of Solitude.

"..uncompleted will be the second half of his autobiography Living to Tell the Tale."

That's lovely and sad. I would be happy to read an unfinished work of his.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2012


I know that it is fashionable these days to sneer at "magical realism" but One Hundred Years of Solitude remains one of the only books that I have ever read which wrung from me every human emotion. That book played me like a xylophone. I still re-read it every ten years or so. When I first read it as a teenager I thought that my life would be complete if I could write one sentence half as beautiful as the opening or closing sentence of that book.

That a mind of such fierce and joyful illumination has faded into shadow makes me profoundly sad.

Walk well with your ghosts, sir. Thank you for everything and more.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [35 favorites]


BitterOldPunk, that might be the best review I've read of a book, ever.
posted by DigDoug at 10:51 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A sad development. I've still got One Hundred Years of Solitude on my shelf, I haven't read it yet but now may be the time. Is there anything I ought to know going in in order to maximize my enjoyment?

This makes me wonder how Terry Pratchett is doing these days.
posted by Scientist at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2012


"What did you expect?" Úrsula sighed. "Time passes."
"That's how it goes," Aureliano admitted, "but not so much."
posted by bgrebs at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Maybe not so much with the screen-length megaquotes.]
posted by cortex at 10:59 AM on July 13, 2012


I love reading but often don't remember much detail of the books I read. I still remember exactly where I was (343 So. Wilson, Pasadena, CA, on the couch in the front room, lying head to the south, mid-afternoon) when I read about the wind wiping away that brief family.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"..uncompleted will be the second half of his autobiography Living to Tell the Tale."

This is tragic and a little darkly funny--could be something from out of one of his books. His lyric prose, wry and loving view of humanity...I am sad for him and his family. I used to teach Chronicle of a Death Foretold to my high school freshman. It's a lovely little novel built around the insanity of human relationships and dynamics of community, full of beautiful ironies. A little tricky for ninth graders, but they'd get there in the end.
posted by smirkette at 11:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is sad news. But Marquez is in his eighties, so I don't know how many more novels we would have expected from him anyway.

Yep. Dude's in his eighties, so out to the wolves with him!
posted by blucevalo at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2012


Is there anything I ought to know going in in order to maximize my enjoyment?

IMO, no. Just read it.

I was in high school when I read it. It was of of several books we read in a student-designed course on Latin American literature. I'm a little embarrassed that I can't remember what else we read for that class - surely, we read Borges, but I don't recall.

I also reread it ever so often (got it on my kindle now), and see new things in every time. At least I'm old enough now to have outlived the despair that I'll never write anything half as evocative as its opening sentence. I'm just happy that someone did.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on July 13, 2012


100 Years of Solitude/Cien años de soledad is a book everyone should read---not least because it's a far different novel than a lot of what was coming out at the same time. Admittedly it's pretty daunting in the Spanish, as Gabo's damn wordy and he uses a lot of old fashioned/dialect-based words, but there's plenty of good English translations.

But my true favorite Gabo novel is Chronicle of a Death Foretold/Crónica de una muerta anunciada. If you can't face Cien años or El atoño del patriarca (which is really, really good and provides some context to the endless parade of US-backed dictators in South America during the Cold War but also happens to be told in pretty much one sentence for the entire novel), you should try Crónica.

How can you not love something which starts with "El día en que lo iban a matar, Santiago Nasar se levantó a las 5:30 de la mañana para esperar el buque en que llegaba el obispo"?

Though I had lots of problems with Gabo's life and work, I am very sorry both for his family about his diagnosis and very sorry for the literary world to lose his immense talent.
posted by librarylis at 11:16 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In our limited perspective we may see him as at the end - he is yet to be born.
posted by incandissonance at 11:23 AM on July 13, 2012


There have been some conflicting reports so the matter is unclear.
posted by Kattullus at 11:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Kattulus: Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen that.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:28 AM on July 13, 2012


I did say it was sad news, didn't I? I meant that the body of literature Marquez has left already is a very impressive legacy, regardless of whether he continues to write.

Sorry I didn't grind my teeth loud enough for the grief police hereabouts.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 11:36 AM on July 13, 2012


One Hundred Years of Solitude was the first "grown up" book that I fell in love with; that I kept coming back to over and over again. I still re-read it and notice new things. Thank you for all the hours of absorption and instilling in me the absolute belief that books can take you far away from your own life.
posted by hepta at 11:53 AM on July 13, 2012


Dementia runs in families? Is that actually true?
posted by davejay at 12:13 PM on July 13, 2012


There are many forms of dementia. Some forms, like fronto-temporal dementias or dementia caused by Huntington's disease, can be hereditary. Unless I missed it, I don't believe the article gives any detail as to what specific form of dementia Garcia Marquez may have.
posted by pecanpies at 12:31 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was in high school. I still was too, let's say, immature, to appreciate a lot of other stuff we read, like Candide and Inferno. But I absolutely loved this book. I would say I devoured it, except unlike so many of the other books that I liked at the time, I had to read pages multiple times to fully understand what was going on. The story was so compelling.

What other books of his are written in the same style?
posted by Night_owl at 12:49 PM on July 13, 2012


There have been some conflicting reports so the matter is unclear.

Yeah I was coming in to post that link, but the overwhelming story seems to be that he won't be publishing anymore.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:17 PM on July 13, 2012


When I was in college the only novel which people more or less had to read in order not to be a cultural heretic or something was One Hundred Years of Solitude. Usually that kind of a fad made me contrary and negative but it truly is one of the most marvelous books I have ever read. As I recall I scarfed it up in about three sittings. No way did it take five.
posted by bukvich at 1:25 PM on July 13, 2012


Wow. My powers of deduction have lead me to the conclusion that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is still alive.
posted by nowhere man at 1:45 PM on July 13, 2012


Chemo brain is a thing that is not talked about enough.
posted by effugas at 3:02 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know that it is fashionable these days to sneer at "magical realism"

Is it? Well, fuck. Me and Marquez and Calvino and Rushdie and the others will all be in the back room while all you supposed grown-ups stay out front and make fun of us. I know who will be having more fun and finding more joy in life.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on July 13, 2012


Like others, 100 years of Solitude is one book I keep coming back to. It's magical without resorting to mysterious wizards and has such heart to it. Godspeed Señor Marquez.
posted by arcticseal at 8:51 PM on July 13, 2012


This hurts me deep inside. When I came to the US, frightened and unable to speak any English, I found refuge in One Hundred Years of Solitude. I used it, along with a dictionary, to teach myself to read in English. I must have read the novel hundreds of times in both languages, and it was the very first time that I fully understood how beautiful and amazing and terrifying language is, how it is that a series of lines and circles can convey images of places and feelings of joy and sorrow, and how two completely different languages can convey exactly the same feelings and images. It was mindblowing. It empowered me to seek more knowledge, and thanks to that book you can read what I've written and understand me.


May his words and ideas remain forever in our hearts.
posted by cobain_angel at 10:55 PM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've learned I have the power to destroy intellectuals. In college Milton Friedman died whilst I was writing a report about him, and now GGM whilst I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude.
posted by spamguy at 10:09 PM on July 14, 2012


Quick! Someone hand spamguy a biography of Grover Norquist!
posted by hippybear at 5:51 AM on July 15, 2012


TNI: Autumn of the Patriarch, Forgetting to Live
To say that memory can deceive us is to perpetrate a dull cliche, however, and this is not the point. Instad, I would put it to you that the point is this: forgetfulness is what saves us, what gives us a second chance. Those who forget the past are not condemned to repeat it, but the reverse is true. Only those who forget the past will ever free themselves from it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:22 AM on July 16, 2012


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