I’m not a great connoisseur of Gabriel García Márquez prose, in fact, “Doce cuentos peregrinos” (“Strange Pilgrims: Twelve Stories“) that I’m reading now is my first real encounter with his work. And this collection of twelve short stories is also the second real book I read in Spanish. It’s not as easy to read in that language for me as Coelho, since Márquez’s language is much richer and complex. Yet, I really like it and I would like to recommend this book, as it seems to be a good introduction to Márquez.

The first thing that I read was the prologue, and it is a fascinating account of a writer’s creative process as he explains to his readers why twelve, why pilgrims and how this short pieces came to be. This is something every aspiring writer should read, because those few pages tell more about writing than many books on the subject.

His stories are not extraordinary. Or, to be more precise, they are not about anything that does not happen every day, year, century between people on this old planet. There is nothing strange in an old ex-president of a little known Caribbean republic to be impoverished, ill and in Geneva. It is also not uncommon that two old migrants from a far away country might meet on the street and start talking to each other. Yet, Márquez manages to tell it as a fascinating story, with changes of prospective as the reader gets to know the characters more and more. The ending is not obvious, just as most endings in the real world. There are some motives or thoughts reader may think characters have that are left unspoken. There is their rich past and little known future which we are left to imagine on our own.

But it was another story that moved me deeply. It was a story about a guy who flies from Paris to New York first class. Along the way he notices the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but more or less she ignores him. She forgot his face the moment she stepped out of the plane, he remembered hers for years. It moved me, because in a way I found myself in it.

This is true art. I think that real mastery or artistry is in observing carefully the world (be it outside or the internal world of mind) and speaking about the significant in routine, depths of simplicity, weight of the unspoken and lightness of the spoken. I believe it is so because it is very, very difficult to speak about these things in a way that would not seem trivial, uninspiring, boring. And I apply this principle to all forms of art. Take a sunset. In nature each sunset is an immensely beautiful spectacle of nature. Try painting or photographing it in such a way that would convey they feelings the real thing inspires in us. Try to describe normal life in a way that would be moving and deep and inspiring. It’s so much easier to invent dragons and magicians, create imaginary conspiracies spaning centuries or extraordinary events. True masters of the word, like Márquez, don’t need all that.

Read it.