Today is the 85th birthday of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Nobel Prize winner wrote Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, among other works. He's thought to be one of the great writers of our time, a stellar example of magical realism, and one of the best Latino authors of all time.
And it occurred to me today that I've never read anything he's written. How is that possible?
I love reading and have a particular appreciation for Latino writers, so this realization bugged me. I pondered it for a while and have reached two conclusions:
1) I should change my statement to "a particular appreciation for Latina writers." Taking a look at my bookshelves, the only Latino authors on there -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Junot Diaz -- I've never actually read. But Julia Alvarez, Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, Isabel Allende, Cristina Garcia, and many others are not at all foreign to me.
2) I am very intimidated to read the works of writers who are thought to be the best in any way, if I haven't already read something by them. There are a lot of classics that I've avoided reading over the years and I've recently noticed that it's because I'm afraid the writing will be too good.
Now, as a reader, finding a book with writing that's "too good" is not a problem. But for somebody who wants to be a writer, even if it isn't a writer of fiction, it can be incredibly intimidating and you end up hating the very thing you love. This has come up a bit with other writer friends of mine and in a writing class I took a few months back, but I am only just fully taking it in now.
"How could I ever be this good?"
It's the question I find myself asking at the end of a great chapter or a particularly delicious sentence. And because I've been reading a lot lately, I'm asking it more and more.
So I've decided that one of the next books I read will be One Hundred Years of Solitude. I've had it for almost 10 years now and have never even opened it. I will push myself past this feeling of intimidation no matter what.