Perfume Drinkers and Pig Tails: Márquez the Marvelous is Dead


“…memories materialized through the strength of implacable evocation and walked like human beings through the cloistered rooms.”

Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Mr. Wicker starts with this quote from one of Márquez’s classics. It was the first of his books I’d ever read and it continues to haunt me with its scorpions and butterflies. In fact, my new YA novel is rife with references to this amazing story as the 16-year-old protagonist is reading it in her AP English class when she meets the boy of both her fondest dreams and coldest nightmares.

I fell in love with Márquez when I read that book, with his passionate imagination and permeable reality. I had read many fantasy authors but nothing captured my own imagination and inspired it as deeply as this tale. I probably loved it in part because of Márquez’s highly visual writing style. The page, canvas. The pen, paint. Motion, color, metaphor: Márquez is king.

By the time I’d read Love in the Time of Cholera, I was drunk on the magical realism of other South American authors such as Isabella Allende, Laura Esquivel and Julio Cortázar, but Marquez still reigned supreme. I loved that Marc Klein and Peter Chesolm used Cholera in Serendpity, a John Cusack film that is very close to my heart for many reasons. The image of Florentino eating flowers and drinking cologne so that he can taste Fermina was so wildly romantic that it infects my every creative impulse. Of course, not every character is like Florentino, but part of me wants to recreate him in every romantic gesture because we can sympathize with his desires for intense connection. The experience of connection that transcends physical boundaries is one of my favorite themes in magical realism and certainly the most profound for me in Márquez’s works.

I struggled with his last book, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, and I have yet to read Living to Tell the Tale, but it promises our greatest and most personal insights into one of the most brilliant literary minds of our age.

And now Márquez has passed. The world mourns. I, too, feel the weight of this loss.

But the world should also celebrate — with perfume and pig tails. Full moons and diamonds. Love letters and oranges. With trembling and anger. Truth raw, naked and sweating on a sleepless night.

For Márquez has at last merged with the infinite. Let his memory materialize in our words and dreams.


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