Reading Log: Gabriel García Márquez’s Of Love and Other Demons

Márquez himself needs no introduction, but his short novel Of Love and Other Demons had completely escaped my radar. My experience with Spanish-language magic realism had been limited to short stories until this point, and I probably would have defaulted to one of the more well-known Márquez titles, but my girlfriend finished this one a few weeks ago and found it enthralling, so I took her recommendation and find myself very glad I did. I’m sure I’ll swing back to some of his big titles within a year or so, but Love and Other Demons is one of the best books I’ve read in 2015.

The magical elements are more toned-down here than in the only other Márquez I’ve read, (the much-anthologized A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings) but this creates a stronger sense of greater-than-reality -the borders of possibility are so blurred. The book never even feels translated -an impressive feat. Márquez’s prose isn’t the meticulously constructed realism of John Gardner or even Carver, but an easy flowing effortlessness that belies a total mastery of the medium of storytelling. That’s where this book really runs away with you -it’s simply a story that exemplifies the fantastic. It’s not hyperbole or exaggeration, just complete dedication to the fulfillment of a story’s potential as a tale in the most archetypal sense of the idea. It’s a fairy story for grown-ups, but the fairies are understated, lending their magic unseen to the larger-than-life characters here, each of them completely believable and utterly improbable.

Recommendation: Buy it and read it somewhere at least tangentially removed from the realities of everyday life.

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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