Gabriel García Márquez is gone and his death feels like a personal loss. I never met him except on the page, but I treasure the gifts that he gave me: an understanding of another culture and land, lessons in how the web of family touches history, flights of imagination that created the genre of magical realism, and, of course, words and images arranged in the best order. Even in translation. The gift of that direct gaze from his photo on my much handled and well marked reading copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’ve been rereading it and it’s on the coffee table as I write. He left me the grand story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” and Love in a Time of Cholera. His autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale. Over the years his books have come and gone through my hands. Now I want them all back to stay. Is there as much room for them on the shelf as there is desire in my hands to hold them?
This is a week of memorials. I will read publicly again tonight in memory of poet Mike Adams. I will remember my beloved friend and fellow poet Michael Macklin. Writers like these men have an afterlife. There is no sell-by date, no expiration on their genius and generosity. Marquez and my lost friends are still with me. The men may be gone but their words will live as long as I live. Well known or less well known, writers’ words stay for as long as we need them. Like enzymes in the mind, we feel their effect. Long may it be so.