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A Love Letter To Literature: Reading Gabo In 'The Paris Review'

Apr 18, 2014

Everyone has a favorite Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, and mine is Love in the Time of Cholera. It's the story of a romance that lasts decades, unwinding through the pages of the book. It's verbose, vibrant and full of love.

But that libro isn't my favorite section of the Garcia Marquez canon. My favorite is actually something he didn't even write: It's an interview he did for the winter 1981 issue of The Paris Review, as thrilling a work of literature as Gabo ever penned — and wholly his.

Garcia Marquez was at a perfect time to sit down and reflect. He was a year away from becoming a Nobel laureate, old enough to look back but vigorously pushing off any talk of being an elder statesman. In the Paris Review piece, we see the author at his finest: witty, profound, demanding, transparent, simultaneously of the pueblo and the world. Garcia Marquez talked about his life, his books and how journalism influenced him. On the latter point, he joked, "I've always been convinced that my true profession is that of a journalist. What I didn't like about journalism before were the working conditions." Preach, hermano.

He bashes critics, praises Hemingway and Faulkner and admits to loving gossip mags. This is not the imperious giant of legend, but a blood-and-flesh hombre who'll answer to no one's tastes but his own. Asked to conclude with what his next project would be, he said, "I'm absolutely convinced that I'm going to write the greatest book of my life, but I don't know which one it will be or when. When I feel something like this — which I have been feeling now for a while — I stay very quiet, so that if it passes by I can capture it."

Fans of Garcia Marquez should read this masterpiece. And if you've never bothered with him? You're in for a treat: It's a love letter to literature, and the perfect gateway to the magic that is the prose of el maestro, Gabo.

Gustavo Arellano is the editor of O.C. Weekly and the author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez died yesterday. He was known for stories filled with fantastical images. For our series this week's most read, writer Gustavo Arellano has not one, but two recommendations.

GUSTAVO ARELLANO, BYLINE: Everyone has a favorite Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, mine is "Love in the Time of Cholera." It's the story of a romance that lasts decades, unwinding through the pages of the book. It's verbose, vibrant and full of love. But that libro isn't my favorite of the Garcia Marquez canon. My favorite is actually something he didn't even write: It's an interview he did with The Paris Review in 1981. It's as thrilling as any book he ever wrote and it's wholly his own.

Garcia Marquez was at a perfect time to sit down and reflect. He was a year away from the Nobel Prize, old enough to look back but pushing off any talk of being an elder statesman. And he's at his finest here. He's witty and profound, demanding, transparent, both of the pueblo and the world. He talks about his life, his books and how journalism influenced him.

He joked, I've always been convinced that my true profession is that of a journalist. What I didn't like about journalism before were the working conditions. Preach it, hermano. He bashes critics, he praises Hemingway and Faulkner and admits to loving gossip magazines. This isn't an imperious literary giant. He's a blood-and-flesh hombre who'll answer to no one's tastes but his own.

The interviewer's last question is about upcoming projects. Garcia Marquez concludes, I'm absolutely convinced that I'm going to write the greatest book of my life, but I don't know which one it will be or when. When I feel something like this, I stay very quiet, so that if it passes by I can capture it. Four years later, he wrote "Love in the Time of Cholera."

If you're already a fan of Garcia Marquez, read this masterpiece. And if you've never bothered with him, you're in for a treat. It's a love letter to literature, and the perfect gateway to the magical prose of el maestro, Gabo.

CORNISH: Gustavo Arellano is the editor of the OC Weekly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.