Alman Dave Quiboquibo (ialman) wrote,
Alman Dave Quiboquibo

on reading, on writing

the other day, while waiting for a certain hour to arrive, i decided to pick up my copy of garcía márquez's "love in the time of cholera", which i found a few days previous inside a re-sealable plastic bag and tucked under several magazines. a wooden bookmark i had bought from malaysia was still inside, marking where i had last left off. naturally, i couldn't remember why i was at that particular page, so i backtracked a few more pages and started reading, halfway past the last chapter, when dr. juvenal urbino de la calle had already died, and florentino ariza was writing these feverish epistles to the love of his life, fermina daza.

since then, i couldn't put the book down, notwithstanding that it had taken me over a year before i could even start to read the book, and at least 2 attempts before i started reading the book again, from the start, last year. the first time i had read the book, i was already at the point where fermina daza and dr. juvenal urbino de la calle took what at the time was a novel hot-air balloon ride and literally delivered the first airmail in the caribbean. i still knew the story, but had to start again from the beginning, and savor the lush language of garcía márquez, and his immortal first line: "it was inevitable, the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of unrequited love".

the reason it had taken this long before i finished the book is that garcía márquez's language had always been so rich, it became exhausting to read. besides, i had inserted ian mcewan, kurt vonnegut, and josé saramago in between. it is really the kind of writing that i am drawn to, and also the kind of writing that i think i do. sometimes, in enjoying the language with which the novel was written, i begin to wonder whether i am more interested in how the story was written, and less -- much less -- in the story itself. i remember getting my first copy of garcía márquez's "one hundred years of solitude" back in college. i had purchased the book with money i had won in an essay-writing competition, but i didn't get to finish the book until the holy week break. and as with "love in the time of cholera", i had to begin again, after at least 2 failed attempts.

so it has been a marathon month for me of voracious reading. and since i'm also already halfway through saramago's "history of the siege of lisbon", i've decided to read it next, maybe leafing back a few more pages, until i recall what has really happened to the proofreader, who changed history by editing one word in a textbook.

i would often tell people that the key to good writing is good reading, but i am myself not the most well-read person even in my small circle. but very very few persons in that same circle i hold in high esteem as a writer. i've always been skeptical of the canon, of people who prescribe a list of 1000 books one must read before one must die. i do not believe in that for many reasons: because i read what i want, what i like, and i do not necessarily like everything that others do. i am my own person, and my decisions, including what i choose to read, are a result of my own, independent, reasons.
Tags: authors, gabriel garcía márquez, josé saramago, literary canon, literary consumption

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