Monday, July 09, 2012

Garcia Marquez Career Appears Over

From The Guardian comes word that the writing career of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is over.

The newspaper reported yesterday that the author's senile dementia has now reached the stage that makes it impossible for him to write.
Jaime García Márquez told students in Cartagena, Colombia, that his older brother, affectionately know as Gabo, calls him on the telephone to ask basic questions.
"He has problems with his memory. Sometimes I cry because I feel like I'm losing him," he said.
"Dementia runs in our family and he's now suffering the ravages prematurely due to the cancer that put him almost on the verge of death," said Jaime. "Chemotherapy saved his life, but it also destroyed many neurons, many defences and cells, and accelerated the process. But he still has the humour, joy and enthusiasm that he has always had."
Jaime said that he tried to keep his brother's condition a secret, "because it's his life and he's always tried to protect it". However, he was moved to speak openly because of the inaccurate speculation he encountered.
This news particularly saddens me this week because I just spent two days in the company of my mother-in-law who is also a victim of this horrible disease.  She is only a shadow of the woman I have known for over 40 years, and the hardest thing for my wife to handle is the realization that, bad as things are for her today, they will never be even this good again.  So, I can easily imagine the pain and sadness with which Jaime García Márquez is watching his renowned brother's ordeal.

Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the "magical realism" style for which Garcia Marquez is best known but I am a an admirer of One Hundred Years of Solitude despite my reluctance to embrace the style.  My favorite of the author's works is Love in the Time of Cholera, the first book of his I ever read.  Very sadly, it is all but certain that Garcia Marquez will be unable to write the second volume of his ironically-titled autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale.

Perhaps some of you would like to join me in contributing to the Alzheimer's Association in honor of this great writer's career.  As the massive baby boom generation continues to age, this dreaded disease will touch all of us in one way or another.  The clock is ticking...let's help find a cure.


  1. I did not know this. I appreciate how you keep posting literary news, both good and bad. You've posted many things I would have missed otherwise.

    Love in the time of Cholera is one of my all-time favorite reads. I've long meant to re-read it. If you've not read it, his novella No One Writes to the Colonel is pretty darn good and has not magical realism as far as I can remember.

  2. This is very sad news. El Gabo is one of my favorite authors, and, like you, my favorite of his books is Love in the Time of Cholera. We lost my mother-in-law to Alzheimer's recently, and it was a sad, slow decline. We felt that we had actually "lost" her long before the final moment. Thank you for the link to the association.

  3. It's a sad story, James...for sure. He is at least the third major writer that has suffered this fate...and I'm sure there are others I never heard about, or don't remember. We really need to cure this disease.

  4. Thanks, Robin. Alzheimer's is going to be a huge problem in the next two decades unless a cure is found...or at least a way to stop it in its tracks once diagnosed. I dread to think of our future.

  5. What a shame. I wasn't a big fan, but I know so many people who are.

  6. It just strikes me as particularly tragic when a great mind is struck down by this horrible disease, RT. All the things you read about doing mental exercises as you age in order to fight off something like Alzheimer's just goes right out the window when you see someone so obviously sharp fall to it. Sad...and scary.

  7. Such a devastating disease. It is relentless and pernicious and evil. I've spent many hours as a hospice volunteer with Alzheimer's patients and know first hand how awful it can be. So sad to think of this once great author losing his mind a bit at a time.

  8. It reminds me, Kathleen, of the way it all ended for Iris Murdoch, another great mind and writer. Her husband wrote some eye-opening books about being her primary caregiver for her last years. It was all very heartbreaking to read.