Tag Archives: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Book Titles

The title of a book is so important – and not many people have titles as consistently good as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in my humble opinion) – and I suppose that is linked to the fact that not many people write as well as he does (again … in my humble opinion..)

Think of these:

Love in the time of Cholera

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World

No-one writes to the Colonel

Memories of my Melancholy Whores.

The General in his Labyrinth


Other titles I like, from other authors

Up in Honey’s Room – Elmore Leonard

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street – Dr Seuss

Death is a lonely business – Ray Bradbury

Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

Looking for Transwonderland – Noo Saro Wiwa

Looking for Transwonderland

OK I’ll stop now … but it is a hard thing getting a title right, and it does matter!

Writing for Children, Writing for Adults and Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Have been thinking about this as I am doing both – sometimes concurrently.

When I started writing The Butterfly Heart I did not have in mind a target audience, it was just a story I wanted to write. It was when I came to my characters that I realised this could be a story that children would read. I am happy however that both children and adults have read it.

I think there are different freedoms in writing for different audiences – I definitely find myself freer in language use when I am writing books specifically geared to an adult audience, I do not check myself as often. The only question I would be asking myself is whether the language I have used is the best it can be.

I would ask myself a similar question when writing for children – but added onto that would be whether it would allow for easy pleasure in its readers. There is a different freedom I find in writing for children – not sure what to call it other than flights of fancy, a freedom of imagination. Maybe I should feel that freedom in writing for adults, and I do to a certain extent, but more so with children.

One of the greatest writers ever (to my mind) is Gabriel Garcia Marquez – and I have only ever read him in translation. He combines everything in one – beautiful use of language, wondrous flights of fancy and great storytelling. There is no one writing now who comes close to him in the way he blends magic and reality, who so seamlessly takes you into a world that is real but which shimmers with a sense of unreality. Can you just imagine what it would be like to read him in Spanish?

For me he has all the freedoms combined in writing for children and adults – a freedom with language and imagination combined with a powerful storytelling ability – that ability which is at the core of any good book.

His titles alone are wondrous – has there ever been a better title than One Hundred Years of Solitude? Love in the time of Cholera? Chronicle of a Death Foretold? Memories of my Melancholy Whores? Strange Pilgrims? I’ll stop now – but can you imagine the fun that illustrators have had with designing those covers?

Here are just a few of them for One Hundred Years of Solitude.


Dr Seuss and One Hundred Years of Solitude

I was asked yesterday about my favourite writers. Very hard to narrow this down to one or two – in a way favourite books might be easier to answer. So instead of giving an answer of say four writers (which would make me think how could I have left out so and so) I said Barbara Kingsolver as her book The Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favourites.

I left out Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude as that almost goes without saying – it is impossible for me to think of a more perfect book. And when you stop to think that the version many of us have read is a translation, it is even more incredible. I spoke to someone once who had read it in Spanish and he described it as musical. Which is exactly what it in in English. I reckon it would almost be worth learning Spanish to read it as he wrote it (not to mention that it would enable you to speak to millions of people scattered over our planet!)

As a favourite writer for children I had little hesitation in naming Dr. Seuss.  My children learnt to read with Dr. Seuss and laughed their way through the process. When I started reading up about his writing it made sense. It is in the da da dum, da da dum, da da dum, da da dum rhythm of it. Its proper name being Anapestic Tetrameter. Whatever its proper name is it has a very natural rhythm to it, it is easy on the ear but not easy to write. 

Cat in the Hat came about in the following way (thanks Wikipedia!)

In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. Accordingly, William Ellsworth Spaulding, the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin who later became its Chairman, compiled a list of 348 words he felt were important for first-graders to recognize and asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and write a book using only those words.[22] Spaulding challenged Geisel to “bring back a book children can’t put down.” [23] Nine months later, Geisel, using 236 of the words given to him, completed The Cat in the Hat.

Some achievement. Even today I read his books and they bring a smile to my face. What a gifted man – to have his way with words and an ability to draw like that, perfect.

‘Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!’ 

Oh, the THINKS you can THINK!