Over the weekend, the Telegraph reported that novelist Gabriel García Márquez has dementia and has stopped writing. Speaking to a group of students in Cartagena, Gabo’s brother Jaime García Márquez said, “He has problems with his memory. Sometimes I cry because I feel like I’m losing him.”
García Márquez, who is 85, has been dealing with memory loss for years; in the late-1990s, he began to mention his memory problems in interviews. In Gerald Martin’s Gabriel García Márquez: A Life, Martin describes a 2005 meeting with Gabo in Mexico City: “his short-term memory was fragile and he was manifestly anguished about that and about the phase he seemed to be embarked upon.”
Indeed, dementia contains a built-in irony—though irony seems too pale a term—in that it progresses slowly but perceptibly enough so that the patient has some awareness of what’s taking place. The sense of slippage, of losing control, is palpable—that is, before the rug is pulled out from under him entirely and he no longer understands the cause of his confusion (and no longer understands or recognizes much else).