I remember reading Love in the Time of Cholera when I was a senior in high school and being amazed a book like that could be written. Re-reading it several years later only deepened my regard for it, and I consider it one of, if not the, greatest love story ever told.
100 Years of Solitude never quite occupied the same place in my heart, though it is certainly more structurally inventive and perhaps a better overall book. I think the character names were too confusing, and more importantly it wasn’t his first novel I’d read. Similarly, no matter how good The Sound and the Fury or Absalom, Absalom! are, for me they will never measure up to As I Lay Dying.
Nevertheless, I devoured the book over several days, while working a summer job at a factory that re-purposed Chinese made timing pulleys. I read it in the minutes before work started, during the two seven-minute smoke breaks, during my lunch hours, and before bed.
He crafted heartache without resorting to formulas or cheap tricks. And beautifully, too.