Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Living to tell the tale

This is the title of the autobiography of the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I have just finished reading. It is as enchanting and fascinating as his novels of magical realism. His large family, adventurous father,tolerant mother( who adopts the children of her husband from other women) his native town of Aracata( which resembles the mythical town of Maconde in his Nobel-prize winning novel " One Hundred Years of solitude) and journey by the River Magdalena are close to what i had experienced reading his various novels. His Bohemian life, poverty and struggles and uncertainties of life and his escapades are what i had imagined from his characters.He has spent lot of his time in Cafes and Bars and the other places more interesting than these two.

The book opens with the appearance of his mother to take him to his native town to sell their ancestral house and their conversations. It is typical Marquez magical realism.

Marquez had decided early in his life to be a writer but became a journalist by force of circumstances. His writngs were based on his own experience and that of others around him.One could relate his grand father, father and mother to the characters of his novels. He talks about an incident which he wanted to write about in one of his novels but his mother prohibited him from writing as a mark of respect for the deceased. Marquez accepted the desire of his mother and desisted.

In the initial period as a writer, he had so much fear that his writing might not be accepted by the publishers and in fact that was what happened to his first work. His writings took time and struggle and he looked upon his fellow writers for encouragement and recognition. And he got into the circle of eminent writers like Alvaro Mutis.

It is a pity that he has covered only upto the fifties and has not touched his later period in which he blossomed as a writer.

One thing which is missing in his life narration is the conspicuos absence of romance. It is surprising that he had not fallen in love deeply and uncontrollably. He has talked casually and matter-of- factly his sexual adventures and some transient affairs.
The other missing thing is his analysis and interpretation of the politics and socio economic situation of Colombia at that time,which sowed the seeds for the current situation of guerilla war and narco-trafficking.

I discovered one of the reasons for the crime and violence in Colombia. While describing an assasination event which was followed by riots and bloodshedding, Marquez says casually that the Colombians need a small or no excuse to kill people.This explains the rampant violence and crime which has come to stigmatise the name of Colombia in the last few decades.