Living to Tell the Tale
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Writer's Life
A review by Adrienne Miller
Would that I could read the original Spanish version! Alas, I cannot, nor, try as I might, will I ever be able to. (It's important to be realistic about one's limitations.) The first volume of Marquez's proposed memoir trilogy, translated by the extremely busy Edith Grossman (who also translated the recently published new version of Don Quixote), is an eloquent, lyrical odyssey into the birth of a writer's life, and watching the brilliant novelist Marquez performing many different phases of youthful self-discovery is a fascinating thing. Living to Tell the Tale follows Marquez through his youth in Colombia (he was born in 1927) up through the fifties, to his blossoming as a writer and his maturation as an artist. Marquez's bright, interesting and really quite remarkable mother emerges as the book's real heroine (how heroic? he was the first of her eleven children), despite the fact that she fervently disapproved of his career choice. In her defense, though, what mother wouldn't have? The only passionless writing in this deliciously hot-blooded memoir occurs during the bits about Marquez's early career as a journalist … but I personally always find journalists boring. It's helpful to have read One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera in order to appreciate this work fully; Marquez's suggestion of the origin of the name of the town in One Hundred Years, and his parents' love affair as the story of Cholera: these are the true delights here.
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