Garcia Marquez was my gateway into non-dead-white-guy authors in translation. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude on a chaise lounge in Waikiki, on a trip when my friend Howard and I drank the pool bar out of Heineken. But I was sober enough most of the time, enough to appreciate that there was more out there to read than my then steady diet of American noir.
The first line in One Hundred Years of Solitude and the first line of the second chapter are the only two sentences I’ve committed to memory—that, and the opening of James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
When the pirate Sir Francis Drake attacked Riohacha in the sixteenth century, Ursula Iguaran’s great-great-grandmother became so frightened with the ringing of alarm bells and the firing of cannons that she lost control of her nerves and sat down on a lighted stove.
When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.
I first read Murakami in a hammock in Mexico on my honeymoon. I was too lazy to locate a bookstore in Tecate, but found a galley of Kafka on the Shore in the hotel library. That started a thorough run of Murakami; that’s a hell of a lot of cats in a short period of time.
For years, when asked, I would say that either The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or One Hundred Years of Solitude was my favorite book. The World Cup of Literature rules disallow both of these books because they’re pre-2000 releases. The only Garcia Marquez work that qualifies is Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Six Murakami titles qualify, including Kafka, but The World Cup of Literature entry is the very troubled 1Q84.
There are no match-ups in the first round of The World Cup of Literature that approach the naming rights, product placement, endorsement deals, or star bling of Colombia / Japan. The burden of commercial success over perceived literary merit haunted this match-up since the bracket was posted.
Crikey, it’s fucking hot in Manaus. Sweat is pouring over my eyebrows like Gullfoss (I seriously wish that Eidur Gudjohnsen was in Brazil rather than Luka Modric). The weather favors Team Garcia Marquez who thrives in heat and humidity. Team Murakami usually practices either in the mountains or at the bottom of wells.
1Q84 entered the pitch in its spiffy Chip Kidd designed kit, visibly suffering from over-exposure. The team is comprised entirely of members of former great Murakami sides with the exception of a young striker, Aomame.
The captain of the Colombia side, unlike many footballers who go by one name, has no name. We’ll just call him Jose Arcadio, because there’s one too many of them in One Hundred Years of Solitude. When manager Jose Pekerman realized that his side was a 90 year old journalist and a sleeping virgin on valerian, he decided to park the bus.
Alberto Zaccheroni sent multiple Murakami recurring themes down the flanks. Tengo, the other forward, confused, was unable to deliver any shots on goal, and waited sullenly for a midfielder to drop the ball on his only good foot (think Eddie Johnson or Wayne Rooney).
All Japan advance, all Colombia defense. Two minutes into stoppage time, Aomame realized it might go to PKs and you don’t know what a 90-year-old whore-monger can deliver when needed. Fuka-Eri sent a cross to Aomame who did a roll and scissors, then entered her parallel universe. She reentered the pitch reality on Arcadio’s weak side and finished into the bottom left corner.
Japan 1 – 0 Colombia
George Carroll is the World Literature Editor for Shelf Awareness for Professionals and the Soccer Editor for Shelf Awareness for Readers. In other words, he’s got this nailed.
OK, that’s a totally lame way to try and combine the two main topics of this week’s podcast: Gabriel García Marquez, and the awful amazingness of the NY Times Style section article on soccer’s popularity in creative circles. Our conversation ranges a bit to include other authors from “el Boom,” contemporary Spanish-language writers, and Beyond the Pampas, a GoodReads reading group focused on Latin American literature. (Currently members are reading Felisberto Hernández’s Piano Stories.) And we end with our new “Rants & Raves” segment, which allows Tom a good space to get things off his chest.Read More...
From The Guardian:
A story about an ageing pistolero and his much younger partner penned over 40 years ago by a struggling writer called Gabriel García Márquez could soon make it on to the big screen.
Mexican actor and producer Rodolfo de Anda says he has just acquired the rights to the long-forgotten screenplay and plans to start filming next year. Titled Frontera, the film was written before the 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude turned García Márquez into an international literary star known to most of the continent simply as Gabo.
“Nobody knew it existed, and the most surprising thing is that it is a Western. I don’t think anybody knew he had written anything like that,” De Anda told Mexican newspaper Reforma.
In Guernica, David Ungar tells of how he became a ghostwriter for Gabriel García Márquez:
It’s a brisk October day in 1975. I’m 24, driving through Central Park with Gabriel García Márquez. As we wend our way through the park, and exit on Central Park West, I am utterly dumbstruck, afraid I’ll say something stupid to the man whose work, more than any other’s, inspired me to become a writer of fiction. García Márquez today, it hardly bears repeating, is secure in his reputation as one of the great writers of our time. He is the author of 100 Years of Solitude, which has sold 30 million copies in 35 languages; a new genre, magical realism, was spawned by this work. His bestselling Love in the Time of Cholera has been turned into a film, which opens this week in theaters. And he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, of course, in 1982. But in 1975, he is simply my idol.
Iran’s straight-laced censors are not known for their tolerance of sexually risque literature, so a book called A Memory of My Melancholy Whores was never likely to meet with their approval.
But in their determination to get Gabriel García Márquez’s highly acclaimed work into the bookshops, local publishers hit on an audacious ruse – they sanitised its title.
As a result, the normally vigilant gaze of culture and Islamic guidance ministry officials was averted when a novel by the Nobel prize-winning author innocuously titled Memories of My Melancholy Sweethearts was submitted and accordingly authorised for publication.
Pascal Quignard’s __The Hatred of Music_ is the densest, most arcane, most complex book I’ve read in ages. It’s also a book that covers a topic so basic, so universal—almost primordial—that just about any reader will be perversely thrilled by. . .
In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Flaubert attempted to highlight the ordinary, tired, and often crass nature of common expressions by italicising them within the text. When Charles, Emma Bovary’s mediocre husband, expresses himself in a manner akin to that of. . .
Eliot Weinberger takes big strides across literary history in his genuinely breathtaking short work, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, tracking translations of a short ancient Chinese poem from the publication of Ezra Pound’s Cathay in 1915 to Gary. . .
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .