Sunday, March 11, 2007

Auster on Marquez.

It was the spring of 1970. I was twenty-three years old, writing and
translating poems, writing essays and reviews, but also dreaming of one
day being able to write novels. By then, I had read nearly all the
masters of the twentieth century--Joyce and Proust, Kafka and Beckett,
Faulkner and Nabokov, Fitzgerald and Céline--and was feeling a little
crushed. How on earth could one ever get out from under those giants?

day, I read a highly enthusiastic review of a novel by a South American
writer whose name was unknown to me. At the time, thirty-seven years
ago, buying hardcover books was an extravagance I could scarcely
afford, but my curiosity had been aroused to such a degree that I went
out and sprang for the book anyway. I started reading One Hundred Years of Solitude
in the early afternoon and I didn't put it down until I had finished
reading it late that night. Here was soemthing new and fresh and
altogether mesmerizing: an imagination, a voice, a sensibility that
resembled nothing I had encountered before. And yet Gabriel García
Márquez's novel, in the masterful translation by Gregory Rabassa,
contained many old-fashioned virtues as well, most of which can be
summed up in a single phrase: love of storytelling.

This love is
what creates pleasure in the reader, the sense of amazement and
happiness that washes over us whenever we stumble upon one of those
rare books that changes the way we look at the world, exposes us to the
infinite possibilities of what a book can be. Every passionate reader
has had that experience, and each time it happens, we understand that
books are a world unto themselves and that world is better and richer
than any we have traveled in before. That is why we become readers in
the first place. That is why we turn away from the vanities of the
material world and begin to love books above all other things.


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