Interstices of the Heart

Moreover, a life shared with a man who was never completely hers, and in which they often knew the sudden explosion of happiness, did not seem to her a condition to be despised. On the contrary: life had shown her that perhaps it was exemplary. – Gabriel García Márquez,  Love in the Time of Cholera (14)


It was the year they fell into devastating love (68).

In honor of Gabriel García Márquez’s recent death I rearranged the order of my BB Queue (beckoning books). I have read Márquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, and some short stories: A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings  is one I loved…..but had yet to introduce myself to Love in the Time of Cholera. Through the marvelous translation of Edith Grossman the acquaintance was finally bridged.

Then he felt alone in the world, and the memory of Fermina Daza, lying in ambush in recent days, dealt him a mortal blow (145).

It was love at first sight. The gripping beauty of Márquez’s prose seized my heart right from the first line: “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”  The story has left a permanent stain on the deepest part of my heart. As I read it, I was so glad  we met now instead of twenty years ago when I would scarcely have appreciated the timeless depth of passionate love. Then again, I was really glad I didn’t try to read it two years ago amidst a devastation.

Florentino Ariza wrote everything with so much passion that even official documents seemed to be about love (167).

The only thing I know, the only thing I believe in, is love. Love in the Time of Cholera is the love story to end all love stories. If I am so fortunate to be able to choose the last book I read in my life, on my death bed, it would be this one.

It had to be a mad dream, […] It had to teach her to think of love as a state of grace: not the means to anything but the alpha and omega, an end itself (291).

Like life, there is not a single moment one would be moved to actually delete from the story – as painful as the twists and turns are, as stunning as the devastation is, everyone must make their own way through the interstices of their own heart. The news of the day, as well as the history of civilization has always shown preference for stifling love, ridiculing the fools that insist upon it. Cholera seems as apt a metaphor for our barbaric, commercialized, politicized, destructive society as any, and for some of us, being a good patient is an impossible choice.

But it was evident on first meeting him that he was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what Florentino Ariza most feared people would call him: a good man (311).

I finished the book on a crowded train sitting next to a stranger. At the last word I closed the pages and held it between my legs, my hands unconsciously arranged in prayer position on either side of the book. A sort of beatific smile broke across my face, my breath stilled. I turned my head towards the window: the verdant trees, gray buildings and azure sky racing by as my gaze wandered far away, everywhere and nowhere, and I cried.

He had so much love left over inside that he did not know what to do with it (171)




8 responses to “Interstices of the Heart

  1. How powerful. Your description of finishing the book is so moving. How can I not read the book now? Thank you.

  2. Saw the movie many years ago. I somehow always confuse Marques with Milan Kundera. His Unbearable Lightness of Being stayed with me all this time.

    • Yes, Kundera is wonderful. I also loved Unbearable Lightness of Being, but it has been many many years since I’ve read it…it’s on my re-read BBqueue. More recently I read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting…very moving writer.

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  4. Intriguing to think of having too much love. Have just seen King Lear – the youngest daughter talks of having to give half the love for her father to her husband. Can love be so easily quantified? Surely the more people you have to love, the more love you have or find – definitely not following the laws of Shakespeare’s physics.

    Date: Sat, 31 May 2014 13:35:43 +0000 To:

  5. r.i.p. marquez – love all you wrote – thanks for all the quotes – they bring him to the surface.

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