I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in my early twenties, and like many who read that book in their early twenties, I loved it. I thought it was unique and original, and that voice of his was awesome, grand and humble at the same time. Here was a new type of narration, unlike anything I read in college.
Then I read Faulkner and discovered where Garcia Marquez’s narration came from. What happened soon after is that Faulkner became important to me, and Garcia Marquez became less relevant. I no longer cared about One Hundred Years of Solitude because I had Light in August, and Light in August appeared to be the inspiration for Garcia Marquez, nearly all of his work.
I wanted to figure out how I came to Garcia Marquez without knowing Faulkner, so I poked around and I came upon a book review written by William Kennedy that said “One Hundred Years of Solitude is the best book since Genesis” or “One Hundred Years of Solitude should be required reading like Genesis.” All very boomy and biblical.
I decided to check Kennedy out, see what he had written, see what other silly statements about books he might have made. He was the author of novels set in Albany NY, and some of them had a hint of that magical realism that one finds in Genesis if one looks hard enough. But the more Kennedy I read, the more I loved his books, and now when asked my favorite novel I answer without hesitation Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game. I have read Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game more times than any other novel, and tonight I know I can pick it up and get in tune with those nighttime gamblers and scrappers and be enthralled.
So today is a good day to thank Garcia Marquez, for his influence, and for many other reasons besides the obvious.