April 19, 2014

gabriel garcia marquez


Among critics there is a generally accepted notion that you’re lacking in literary background, that you write only from your personal experiences, your imagination. What can you tell us in that regard?
(García Márquez’s eyes light up. As if we had pushed a hidden button, the character—who inevitably brings to mind the figure of Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek—manifests himself in a torrent of laughs, gestures, shouts. The magic word has been uttered. We’ve touched on his Achilles’s heel: literature.)

Yes. With my joshing I’ve probably contributed toward the idea that I lack literary education, that I write only from personal experiences, that my sources are Faulkner, Hemingway, and other foreign writers.
Little is known about my knowledge of Colombian literature.
No doubt, my influences, especially in Colombia, are extra-literary.
More than any book, I think what opened my eyes was music, vallenato songs.
I’m talking about many years ago, at least thirty years ago, when vallenato music was hardly known outside a corner of the Magdalena valley.
What called my attention most of all was the form the songs used, the way they told a fact, a story … All quite naturally.
Then, when vallenato was commercialized, what mattered more was the feeling, the rhythm … Those vallenato songs narrated as my grandmother used to, I remember… . Later, when I started studying the Spanish ballads of the Romancero, I found that it was the same esthetic, and found it all once again in the Romancero.

Couldn’t we talk about music?

Yes, but afterwards, and not for the record … No, it’s not that I can’t talk about music.
But I get caught up in a tangle that doesn’t end. It’s … something very intimate, even more of a secret when the people whom you’re talking to know about music …
For me, music is anything that makes sound.
And I change a lot … Bartok, for instance, who’s an author I really like, is hell to listen to in the mornings.
One gets more easily into Mozart in the morning.
But afterwards, I’m calm … I’ve got all of Daniel Santos, Miguelito Valdés, Julio Jaramillo and all of the singers who’re so discredited among intellectuals.
You see, I don’t make distinctions, I recognize that everything has its value.
The only thing where I’m all-embracing is in musical matters.
Somehow I listen to no less than two hours of music a day. It’s the only thing that relaxes me, puts me in the right mood …
And I go through all kinds of phases.

Home is where your books are, they say, but for me it’s where my recordings are.
I’ve got more than five thousand of them.

Which of you guys listens to music?
You know, as a habit?
You do?
For how long?
How far can you go?
For example, have you gotten to the Orquesta Casino de la Playa? Is Miguelito Valdés and the Casino de la Playa a reference for you?

Yes, of course. And, starting out there with the boleros?

Yes. Daniel Santos from 1940.

With the Cuarteto Flórez?

Yeah! … The Farewell, at the Serranía …

That’s the origin of salsa, the Casino de la Playa Orchestra.
The pianist was Sacasas, who was most famous for his solos called montunos.
It’s a quarrel I’ve had with the Cubans, an old fight, especially with Armando Hart … Hey! … Is that thing [the tape recorder] running?

Yeah … It’s running.

Turn it off!

My literary background was basically in poetry, but bad poetry, since only through bad poetry can you get to good poetry.
I started out with that stuff called popular verse, the kind that was published in almanacs or on loose sheets of paper. Some of them were influenced by Julio Flórez.
When I got to high school I started out with the poetry that appeared in grammar books.
I realized that what I most liked was poetry and what I most hated was Spanish class, grammar.
What I liked was the examples.
There were mostly examples from the Spanish Romantics, which were probably the closest thing to Julio Flórez– Nuñez de Arce, Espronceda.
Then, the Spanish classics. But the revelation comes when you really get into Colombian poetry: –Domínguez Camargo. At that time the first thing you learned was World Literature.
It was terrible!
There was no access to the books.
The professors said that they were good because of this or that.
Much later I read them and thought them incredible. I’m referring to the classics.

But they were incredible not because of what the professor said, but because of what went on: Ulysses tied to the mast so he won’t succumb to the sirens’ song … All that stuff that happens.
Afterwards, we’d study Spanish literature, and Colombian literature only in the last year of high school.
So when I made it to that class I knew more than the professor did.
It was in Zipaquirá.
I had nothing to do and, to avoid getting bored I’d hole up at the school library, where they had the Aldeana collection.
I read the whole thing! … From volume one to the last! I read El carnero, memoirs, reminiscences … I read it all!
Of course, when I reached my last year in secondary school, I knew more than the teacher did.
That’s where I realized that Rafael Núñez was the worst poet in the country …
The National Anthem! …
Can you imagine that the lyrics to the National Anthem were chosen because they were a great poem by Núñez?
That it was first chosen as an anthem you might accept, but what prompts horror is that it was chosen as Anthem because it was poetry.

As far as literature was concerned, the Caribbean coast didn’t exist.
When literature gets separated from life and seals itself off in closed circles, then a gap appears and it’s filled by the provincials …
They save literature when it’s become rhetoric.

At age twenty I already had a literary background that was enough for me to write everything I’ve written … I don’t know how I discovered the novel.
I thought that what interested me was poetry … I don’t know … I can’t remember when it was I realized that the novel was what I needed to express myself …
You guys can’t imagine what it meant for a scholarship kid from the Coast enrolled at the Liceo de Zipaquirá to have access to books ..
Probably Kafka’s The Metamorphosis” was a revelation …
It was in 1947 …
I was nineteen …
I was doing my first year of law school …
I remember the opening sentences, it reads exactly thus: “As Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.” … Holy shit! When I read that I said to myself, “This isn’t right! … Nobody had told me this could be done! … Because it really can be done! … So then I can! … Holy shit! … That’s how my grandmother told stories … The wildest things, in the most natural way.”


April 18, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez ….RIP

That man died yesterday.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Well, he didn’t really die.
Nobody who writes great literature ever dies.

I wish I could re-create the sensation that surged through me when I first opened One Hundred Years of Solitude at the age of 22.
It was like looking at stars for the first time from an untouched spot in the middle of The Amazon or The Sahara.
You realize in moments like those that the world offers a much deeper and more vivid experience than you could’ve possibly imagined. You’re in God’s mind.

I will never be able to know the combustion of that book and the age of 22 again.
That pulsing of cosmic electricity and excitement only visits once.
But I did figure out a way to do that What I’ve Learned.
I journeyed through sites on the Internet to compile some wisdom originating in Gabo’s books and interviews.
It turned a day that would have been tinged with sadness into hours of soft smiles as each nugget was uncovered.
And as the maestro himself advised: “Never stop smiling not even when you’re sad, someone might fall in love with your smile.”

It turned a day that would have been tinged with sadness into hours of soft smiles as each nugget was uncovered. And as the maestro himself advised: “Never stop smiling not even when you’re sad, someone might fall in love with your smile.”

So here it is. An interview that couldn’t be more truthful even though it never happened. What I’ve Learned, from Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.

Just as real events are forgotten, some that never were can be in our memories as if they happened.

Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love.

Fiction was invented the day Jonah arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale.

Then the writing became so fluid that I sometimes felt as if I were writing for the sheer pleasure of telling a story, which may be the human condition that most resembles levitation.

Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.

The problem in public life is learning to overcome terror; the problem in married life is learning to overcome boredom.

No medicine cures what happiness cannot.

The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.

A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.

The only thing worse than bad health is a bad name.

I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of Him.

It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.

Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.

Inspiration gives no warnings.

Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability.

The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good

It is like a firstborn son: you spend your life working for him, sacrificing everything for him, and at the moment of truth he does just as he pleases.

Justice limps along, but gets there all the same.

A lie is more comfortable than doubt, more useful than love, more lasting than truth.

Crazy people are not crazy if one accepts their reasoning.

One does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.

Shame has a poor memory.

The world must be all fucked up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.

He who awaits much can expect little.

A falcon who chases a warlike crane can only hope for a life of pain.

One minute of reconciliation is worth more than a whole life of friendship.

Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will not make you cry.

I don’t think you can write a book that’s worth anything without extraordinary discipline.

A true friend is the one who holds your hand and touches your heart.

All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.

If men gave birth, they’d be less inconsiderate.

How strange women are

Don’t let yourself die without knowing the wonder of fucking with love.

Jealousy knows more than truth does

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are.

Ceasing to believe caused a permanent scar in the place where one’s faith had been, making it impossible to forget.

One ages more and with more intensity in pictures than in reality.

With The Thousand and One Nights, I learned and never forgot that we should read only those books that force us to reread them.

I can’t think of any film that improved on a good novel, but I can think of many good films that came from very bad novels.

Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people

An early-rising man is a good spouse but a bad husband.

Everything that goes into my mouth seems to make me fat, everything that comes out of my mouth embarrasses me.

Fame is very agreeable, but the bad thing is that it goes on 24 hours a day

Fiction has helped my journalism because it has given it literary value. Journalism has helped my fiction because it has kept me in a close relationship with reality.

To all, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love…

There is always something left to love.

Courage did not come from the need to survive, or from a brute indifference inherited from someone else, but from a driving need for love which no obstacle in this world or the next world will break.

The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.

Nobody teaches life anything.

The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.

(many thanks Carl Fussman)


Be calm. God awaits you at the door.

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate writer, dies aged 87

April 19, 2014

no one writes to the colonel …


April 19, 2014

the general in his labyrinth ….


April 18, 2014

the autumn of the patriarch


April 18, 2014

memories of my melancholy whores ….


April 18, 2014

chronicle of a death foretold


April 18, 2014

love in the time of cholera

love in the time of cholera

April 18, 2014

one hundred years of solitude


Wonder, silence, gratitude

one who is going upstream ......

one who is going upstream ......

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