19. Eyes of a Blue Dog
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is day Nineteen of my Month of Short Stories – a story a day for June.
Source Figure, by Robert Graham, foreground, We Stand Together, George Rodrigue, background
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite writers of all time. One Hundred Years of Solitude was a revelation when I read it decades ago – it is on my desert island list for sure. Love in the Time of Cholera might even be a better book, all around.
My love for his prodigious output of short fiction has never matched that of his epic novels, however. In small doses his Magic Realism (can this style of writing even be done in English? In an American settting?) feels overly precious to me – though his genius is evident even there.
Even though I love his work, if you tell me you can’t get into it… I’d have a hard time arguing. It’s not for everyone. Either it resonates with you or it doesn’t.
Today we have an early short story by him, Eyes of a Blue Dog (originally published in – you guessed it – the New Yorker in 1978). At first the story is confusing… What is going on here? It doesn’t take long to figure out we are in a dream, and the author does a good job of implying the odd geometry of a slumbering illusion.
There are two people in this dream, a man and a woman. They meet in dreams, but can’t connect in real life, because – even though the woman wants to find the man and goes around spreading the phrase “Eyes of a Blue Dog” as a clue to her whereabouts – he can’t remember anything once he wakes up.
It’s a concice example of loneliness. Even when we have found a kindred soul, our passion and hunger are doomed because of the mortal shell we are all trapped within. This theme of the human soul desolate and alone runs through all of his work – despite plenty of life-affirming, entertaining, and hopeful passages.
Now, next to the lamp, she was looking at me. I remembered that she had also looked at me in that way in the past, from that remote dream where I made the chair spin on its back legs and remained facing a strange woman with ashen eyes. It was in that dream that I asked her for the first time: “Who are you?” And she said to me: “I don’t remember.” I said to her: “But I think we’ve seen each other before.” And she said, indifferently: “I think I dreamed about you once, about this same room.” And I told her: “That’s it. I’m beginning to remember now.” And she said: “How strange. It’s certain that we’ve met in other dreams.”
—-Eyes of a Blue Dog, Gabriel Garcia Marquez