I have read these stories over and over, I had lost count. Every time, the words intricately put together produce the most fascinating yet very real images inside one’s head, beguile me to live in their worlds. Perhaps because, these worlds are snippets of years growing up in the remote barrenness of my childhood home. All the stories are sewn together by the thrills of beginnings and endings, of living and dying. Last night, I slept with the image of Nena Daconte’s life pouring out of her bleeding ring finger and of twelve schoolboys drowned in the flood of light in a fifth floor apartment in Madrid. I never tire of Marquez’s tapestry of words because they easily puncture the screen that divides imagination from the real. So when he writes of October rains or even the stupefying summer heat, I am transported elsewhere. This elsewhere echoes unnameable and fleeting familiars – certain shades of afternoon light, a tense silence, and solitude most of all. Too bad, I gave away one prized copy of his novel. Now I only revisit the incarcerated girl’s pain and the priest’s tormented love in memory.
The Prologue for “Strange Pilgrims” (Garcia Marquez 1993, Penguin:vii-2)is as riveting as the twelve stories that follow. Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes of the creative process that the writing of the stories entailed, describing the circuitous paths his ideas took and finally of the “panoramic view” (1993:xii) that the process afforded him. He writes of the effort needed to start a short story as akin to that of a novel. Both demand that everything be established in the very first paragraph and then what follows is – “…the pleasure of writing, the most intimate, solitary pleasure one can imagine, and if the rest of one’s life is not spent correcting the novel, it is because the same iron rigor needed to begin the book is required to end it.” (1993: ix).