Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Book Review: Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

For this week's Friday Forays in Fiction, I'm recycling this review I wrote for Joyread in 2004 of the first volume of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' memoir. Reading memoirs and autobiographies of story tellers is a way to learn from the masters and get inspired and motivated and encouraged. Garcia Marquez is one of my all time favorite story tellers.

Living to Tell the Tale
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Translated by Edith Grossman
© 2003
Alfred A. Knopf
484p
Subject: Author memoir; author autobiography

Living to Tell the Tale, the first volume of an intended trilogy, covers the years from novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s birth in 1927 to the day in 1955 on which he left his native land for Europe on assignment as a journalist. His first novel, Leaf Storm, had recently been published and he had just proposed to the woman who would one day be his wife.

Devotees of the stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will not be disappointed by this one--the story of his coming of age as a man and as a writer. The storytelling powers, which garnered this Colombian novelist an avid worldwide audience and the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, are as robust as ever in these pages. But that should not surprise those who know that Garcia Marquez honed his writing skills as a journalist and believed, as he reiterates on page 264 that "…the novel and journalism are children of the same mother." Progeny of a devotion to riveting stories woven from keen observation of meaningful detail and a reverence for the human spirit.

Any aspiring story teller would garner a good deal of inspiration from these pages, as well as helpful hints on how to go about their craft. Hints which are not handed out as advice or how-to check-lists, but rather embedded in this well-told story by a master-craftsman of stories, whose astute observation of all he turns his attention to loses none of its acuteness or integrity when directed upon his own life. In fact, it seems it is this very ability to attend to particulars and see the patterns of meaning rippling out from them which is the very root of his talent.

Would-be novelists are bound to be galvanized by the story of how he set about to learn his craft once he had set his mind to it. "I began to read like a real working novelist, not only for pleasure but out of an insatiable curiosity to discover how books by wise people were written. I read them forward first, then backward, and subjected them to a kind-of surgical disemboweling until I reached the most recondite mysteries of their structure." p. 367

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An excellent resource for learning more about Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabo) and his works is this web site maintained by passionate Gabo acolytes: Macondo

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