• literature
  • Marquezania

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    García Márquez in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2003. Photograph: Andres Reyes/AP

    Nobel prize winning author and father of magic realism, Gabriel García Márquez, passed away on Thursday at the age of 87.

    His breakthrough novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, was published in 1967. The book has sold 50 million copies in 25 languages. That novel was a revelation to me then, and my respect for him never wavered.

    The imaginative power of his writing was stunning, and that otherworldliness of his storytelling has impacted me and my approach to my visual work all these many years. I had to take a moment here to honor and remember this extraordinary man and his work.

    Quotes by him are in abundance since his death, but here are a few of my favorites:

    It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.

    The secret of good old-age is none other than an honest pact with solitude.

    But if they had learned anything together it was that wisdom arrives when it’s no longer useful.

    What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.

    No, not rich. I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing.

    There is always something left to love.

  • Ideas
  • The Boredom/Bliss Continuum

    Slow accretion of ice on a window in winter Note: The following post is pulled from the Slow Muse archives. What caught me on the reread was the note left by David Foster Wallace with his final manuscript: “Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in […]

  • Art Making
  • Thanks for the Resonance

    Happiness studies (Is that a legitimate category of research now? I think yes) have produced results that often surprise me and feel counterintuitive. One well known study from a few years ago found that happiness is not just the product of a proactive program of self help books and positive thinking. It also is impacted […]

  • literature
  • The Far Horizon

    Kellin and Sean Nelson, newly married (photo courtesy of David Webb and Kris Bell) Just back from my daughter Kellin’s wedding in Hawaii. It feels silly to try to encapsulate a week’s worth of joy and intensity so I am not going there. Even for those of us who are not ceremonial or sentimental (I […]

  • literature
  • They Might Be Giants

    T. S. Eliot Harold Bloom first wrote about his now famous theory of the anxiety of influence in the early 1970’s while I was in college. Bloom focused on poetry and traced the complex challenge facing a poet in search of his or her own unique voice while being inspired—and intimidated—by a powerful precursor. The […]

  • History
  • Licking Life

    As unpleasant as air travel has become, it still serves up that delicious, “put your headphones on and block out the world” slot of time to just read. This weekend it was spent devouring Sarah Bakewell’s captivating and award winning book, How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at […]

  • literature
  • Unwritten Books, Unpainted Paintings

    In the liminal zone… Rivka Galchen is one of those way too smart, “go to medical school before you finish your undergraduate degree and then get your MFA in creative writing” types. Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in 2008. So it seems apropos that a polyglot mind writes about another—in this case, Galchen […]

  • Ideas
  • Narrative or Episodic, or Both

    Falling water: Is it narrativistic or episodic? An excellent article by Lee Siegel (author of Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob) appeared in the Wall Street Journal. At first blush it may seem to be yet another Robert Benchley “pick one” dichotomous probe (It was Benchley of the Round […]

  • literature
  • Robinson Wins the Orange Prize

    I was so pleased to hear that Marilynne Robinson won the Orange Prize for her latest novel, Home. I have been a fan since a friend lent me Housekeeping many years ago. What a writer, and what a book. Published in 1980, Housekeeping was Robinson’s sole novel (she did publish two books of essays which […]

  • literature
  • Tales from the Fairies

    Add fairytales to the list of things that may not be as old as you may have assumed. The argument made below claims that the origins of this material is more accurately traced to the print tradition than the oral one. Understandably this thesis has been controversial. Folklorists, ethnologists and mythologists have strong opinions about […]