meeting the patriarch

Francisco Goldman describes how his friend Mauricio Montiel, a young Mexican writer who got his start in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s newspaper Cambio, decided to turn down the Nobel-winning writer’s offer of a new gig, and preferred to start his own newspaper, with a slew of other writers of the day.

Now Montiel was headed to lunch with the paradoxically living equivalent of a Faulkner or Dickens to tell him he wasn’t coming back to work for his magazine. As Jose Marti once versified: ”A rosebush raises a rose/A flowerpot a carnation/And a father raises a daughter/Not knowing who she is for.” Youth takes what it needs and, grateful or not, moves on; it’s a law of life, especially regarding young writers. Montiel doesn’t hide his gratitude and high regard for Garcia Marquez. He was anxious about the lunch, though, about the man’s legendary charm and powers of persuasion. But he and his friends were determined to start their own magazine just as Garcia Marquez had done with his own friends as a struggling young journalist in Barranquilla, Colombia, back in the 50’s.

Goldman writes nostalgically about his first encounter with One Hundred Years of Solitude, making me want to find my dog-eared copy and start reading it again: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. Goldman examines part of Garcia Marquez’s legacy and makes the compelling argument that magic realism is practically a stereotype of South American fiction these days, rather than the singular style that Marquez used in some of his work.

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