Gabriel Garcia Marquez - writing the fantastic

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

So begins Gabriel Garcia Marquez's marvellous tale, 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. Marquez's book wasn't my introduction to South American magical realism, that book was Isabel Allende's 'The House of the Spirits.' Thoroughly entranced, I went searching for more and discovered Marquez.

In a Paris Review interview (The Art of Fiction no69) I was delighted to read how Marquez found the tone for 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. This is what he had to say:


[] It was based on the way my grandmother used to tell her stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness. When I finally discovered the tone I had to use, I sat down for eighteen months and worked every day.


How did she express the “fantastic” so naturally?


What was most important was the expression she had on her face. She did not change her expression at all when telling her stories, and everyone was surprised. In previous attempts to write One Hundred Years of Solitude, I tried to tell the story without believing in it. I discovered that what I had to do was believe in them myself and write them with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face.