An eye-opening collection of articles that reveal Gabo the journalist.
New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson sets up this eclectic and transportive selection of 50 journalistic pieces from 1950 to 1984 by the Colombian Nobel laureate, noting in his introduction that journalism was García Márquez’s “first true love.” In fact, the beloved novelist (1927-2014) called it the “best profession in the world.” Editor Pera confesses that he purposefully chose pieces that “contain a latent narrative tension between journalism and literature” to showcase the author’s “unstoppable narrative impulse.” The titular article, the longest in the collection, written for El Spectador, which published García Márquez’s first short stories, is an account of the mysterious death of a young Italian woman in Rome in 1953. The atmospheric, serialized piece is told in chapter form and might owe something to García Márquez’s love of two “perfect” short stories he references in “Like Souls in Purgatory”: W.W. Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw” and Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.” Many of the articles confront political and social issues, including the U.S. blockade of Cuba, the Sandinista raid in Managua, Nicaragua, the international trafficking of women, the death of his beloved Magdalena River from pollution and deforestation, and the Soviet intervention in Hungary. In “Misadventures of a Writer of Books,” García Márquez admits that a writer “has no other revolutionary obligation than to write well.” He rages about bad teachers of literature who “spout nonsense,” calls the Nobel Prize a “senile laurel,” is convinced “Japanese novels have something in common with mine,” praises “self-sacrificing” translators as “brilliant accomplice[s],” and mourns the death of John Lennon. In the lovely “My Personal Hemingway,” García Márquez recalls seeing him across a Paris street in 1957 and shouting out, “Maaeeestro!”
The text is elegantly translated by McLean, and García Márquez fans will welcome these fresh and lively examples of his beautiful, lyrical writing.