Faced with the challenge of writing 75,000 words in eleven chapters about Gabriel García Márquez, Spanish and English instructor Eric Reinholtz, like a Marlborough student, completed homework every night.
Reinholtz wrote 500 words each night on weekdays and 1,000 words on weekends from February to November 2008 before submitting his book, “Bloom’s How to Write About Gabriel García Márquez” to the Chelsea House publishers.
When Reinholtz started his book, he knew he was not a Márquez scholar, despite having read and taught Márquez many times. Nevertheless, Reinholtz’s take on education is “anything that’s hard to do is worth doing.”
“When we talk about the fun in education, I think sometimes we miss the point. The fun is not in ‘oh that was fun’ in the sense that it was a fun game. The fun should be ‘I did something I wasn’t sure I could do, and I learned something I didn’t know before’ – the intellectual, mental joy,” Reinholtz said.
However, Reinholtz admitted there’s no immediate satisfaction.
“Sometimes it’s not fun…but ‘I learned something today. I created something.’ It’s an unparalleled feeling, and in that half an hour on working on that project, you feel a sense of completion,” Reinholtz said.
When the senior editor at Bloom’s Literary Criticism, Doug Sanders, asked Reinholtz to write the book, Reinholtz agreed because he is familiar with the mindset of college freshmen and high school seniors.
“This book is not Literature for Dummies,” Reinholtz said. “Instead of telling people what to write – which is the Cliff Notes approach – I wanted to help them understand what they’re writing about.”
Discussing one novel per chapter, Reinholtz chose a style for his book that mirrored how he would discuss Márquez in class.
“I would ask students in the Socratic method. ‘What are the themes in this novel?’ Then, I would talk about the theme of solitude, for example, and find a quotation in novel. Then, I would question the students and ask ‘What do you think? Why do you think?’,” Reinholtz said.
The book, unlike his past publications, reflected his job as a teacher.
“You don’t want to indoctrinate. That’s not our job as teachers – though sometimes we make [that] mistake,” Reinholtz said.
When asked whether his book will be required for his future classes, Reinholtz shook his head.
“The requirement should be to read García Márquez, not to read books about García Márquez. Use my book, check it out of the library – I hope they have it at the library – and maybe it’ll help guide you which one you want to read,” Reinholtz said. “He’s the genius. I’m just a guy who benefited that this genius writer produced these great works of literature.”