I’ve always been fascinated by the enigma that is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ever since form six in A Levels when I first read El Colonel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba/No One Writes to the Colonel. Its sad, melodic undertones seem to propel the reader forward, carry them to this man, the colonel who is still holding out hope after so many years of waiting for a letter that never comes. Or maybe it is just the existentialist in me, who was also exposed to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (and Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons), who would find the theme: the passage of time, to be something almost excruciating. That somehow, somewhere, we are always waiting. While trying to move forward.
There is nothing new (under the sun), everything that has been said, has been said already. To some this might seem like a knock in the chest, but old stories retold do have their meanings. Purpose. While I am not trying to say that Marquez is not original, I am only trying to highlight that some writers tell stories that for us may seem timeless. Reading No One Writes to the Colonel now, the piece seems even more bright and strong than when I first read it. The story is as dense and full of life. For example this little bit of dialogue where the asthmatic wife speaks to her husband. “It must be horrible to be buried in October,” she said. But her husband paid no attention.” (page 7)
Everything is simple, yet crisp. And sitting here reading some of his work, I remember some of the reasons why I first wanted to write. Reasons that also made me a better reader. Firstly, I wanted to move someone and be moved. Secondly, I wanted to learn how to get better by studying the craft and reading more. And lastly, I wanted to find out who had voices and were trying to speak.
Rest in Peace, señor Marquez. You were a terrific teacher.