25 Apr 2014

An extension of a Facebook status: R.I.P, Marquez

The first book I ever picked up was “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. I think mum was very proud, not about the book I chose, about me being able to read at such an young age. I was 4 (of 5 if you calculate age the Vietnamese way).

According to mum, it took me half an hour to finish the first couple of sentences. I  didn't understand any of it, of course, I was 4. But then again, who could? It was Marquez’s after all. You could read his books for a thousand times by the age of 89 and would still be able to learn something new. Yeees I know about the ideological transfiguration, the political propaganda, the metaphors, etc. etc., all the “supposedly” ideas that went into this piece of art. You probably figured, I did my research. Nevertheless, what makes Marquez’s works magical (for me) is their ability to enable readers of different thinking, ideas, and trigger quite a provocative stream of thoughts; very much like Vonnegut’s. Reading professional literature interpretation/research is a dangerous game. Play it right, you broaden your knowledge/understanding on the book. Hang solely onto it, you jeopardise having your independent interpretation of the world. Or worse, you could become a hard-ass stupid fuck.

So there I was, being 4, could barely read, and I picked up a literally enormous book. Obviously; I sure as hell hope you figured this; no ideology nor interpretation penetrated my then empty mind. It was probably just a string of weird sounding words. Well, mum still took the book away from me. Good parenting, I guess! She knew I would have spent hours “reading” the book if she just let me, she knew if I had my mind fixed on something, I would not give up. I think granddad adored me for that. Actually, I know he did. He told me that; telling me how adorable and humble it was watching a 3 year old little MaiPhuong quietly spent 2 hours to write a report (weirdly neat wiggly lines) when he took me to one of his meetings. But that’s a story for another time. Having taken away the first book of my life, mum and dad gave me Grimm’s Fairy Tales in compensation, which lasted me a good couple of years until I started school. I didn’t have a chance to read Marquez (you could say “again”) until I was 17.

My sweet 17! I've just finished all the important exams (either high school end which is the equivalent of A-levels, or the one to be qualified into chosen uni, which I don't know why still exist to this date. Anyways, one of the two, I can't remember which. That's how many fuck I gave about school). The adults sent all of us kids in the  family to my auntie's place outside of town, where we could run around doing whatever the hell we want. A few minutes prior to departure, I stood in front of the family bookshelf to pick a book for the trip. Of course there was a selection process which all happened within the 5 mins of my mum shouting for us to get in car, my brother and cousins running around laughing uncontrollably, and me frantically scanning the titles as fast as I could: "..Hundred Years ...Solitude..?" That sounded melancholy and bad-ass. Oink, book shoved in the backpack and off we went.

I started the book in the car. I did not put it down until the last page was read.

That meant ignoring my crazy brother and cousins laughing, running around, occasional screaming and pillow smacks in the face. That meant somehow ninja from my auntie's eagle eyes to be able to have 3 meals a day while reading the book hid under my legs (we sat crossed-legs on the floor for meals). That meant sweating like a pig under the blanket to read while others whispering ghost stories and giggling non-stop. That basically meant loads of motherfucking dedication, even addiction.

I remember putting the book down one afternoon, hazy minded-ly watching my cousins running in and out of the house. And-the-world-transformed.

I won't tell you how, or why. I can tell you this much: the book has an important place in me, it is an important part of who I am, today. No other Marquez's books have had the same effect on me, yet they all somehow coincided with things/places/people that I remember. Perhaps, I remember those things, places and people because of the books? I don't know. It doesn't matter. I do love Marquez and his works. And I'm sure loads of you do, too - this way or another. So R.I.P, old man. And thank you.

Even being able to reflect on these random memories upon your departure makes me happy.  Thank you.


Oh yah, while we're on the "One Hundred Years..." subject, there was this guy… Ok, I’m about to go on full mode bitchy now, so unless you kind of do know me, you should probably stop reading. There was this guy who wrote a full blog post on his opinion about me and a few other girls, which I happened to find out while googling my name ages ago. (Apologise for the vainness). I never met this guy, didn’t even know his name, still don’t. We probably exchanged ideas a couple of times on some forums for readers/writers that we were both members. Being smart enough, he set the post private. Being extra smart, I knew how the internet works, and Google cache link was on my side. According to him, the other girls (whom I knew) were dumb and vain as hell. I somehow received a better review (?!),  but he specifically expressed that he was a little disappointed when my answer to “Why do you like One Hundred Years of Solitude” was “I like the different and magical writing”, or something along that line. According to him, I didn't understand the depth, the beauty, the symbolism, the amazing metaphors of the book; and that in itself, was such a shame. I admit: I did enjoy his post for all the wrong reasons. Wicked as it is, I find entertainment watching ignorance and narrow-mindedness struggle in their tiny world. He was a prime example of readers without their own mind. You suck in all these analytic, you read all the critics, you probably can quote certain things word for word, and you forget to enjoy literature as it is, you fail to feel the magic created by words. There’s a reason I don’t discuss books: I want to keep my version of the book to myself - words affect me on a personal level; they are never just words. More importantly, I don’t want to force my view on others. I probably would have felt sorry for the guy, but I didn’t: for being bitchy about some girls you don’t even know and being such a coward that you had to hide your opinon….dude, suck a dick!
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