The traces of an intimate farewell; Gabriel García Márquez recounts the last days

MEXICO CITY. “I work with my memory. Memory is my tool and my raw material. I can’t work without her, help me ”, he insistently cried out Gabrel Gaircía Marquez months before he passed away, in 2014, at his home in the south of Mexico City.

This is how his son, the filmmaker Rodrigo García, remembers him in the book Gabo and Mercedes: a farewell, in which he recounts the last days of the author of One hundred years of loneliness and Love in the time of cholera, which will be presented today at 11:00 at the Casa Estudio Cien años de Soledad in a digital talk with Juan Villoro.

Writing about the death of a loved one must be almost as old as writing itself, and yet when I do it, it instantly makes my throat lump, ”says the filmmaker in this book published by Penguin Random House. , full of anecdotes and intimate fragments, from his literary loves and the existence of a pet cemetery, to his perception of fame, the day he ate among the garbage and the donation of the hospital bed in which he spent his last days .

Over time, Rodrigo García writes, that grueling repetition of memory loss was left in the past and Gabo resigned himself with a certain irony. Then, “I would regain some calm and sometimes I would say: I am losing my memory, but luckily I forget that I am losing it.”

Rodrigo also says that Gabo’s sense of humor survived dementia that he suffered towards the end of his life and recalls that in recent months he was cared for by two nurses and two assistants, who sometimes woke him up with their voices.

On one of those occasions Rodrigo was in the adjoining room and heard some laughter. “I go in and ask what’s going on,” says the filmmaker. They tell me that my father opened his eyes, looked at them carefully and said calmly: ‘I can’t fuck them all.’

Another endearing moment in the book is from the early 70s, when he received some chemotherapies and Gabo questioned his life: “Nothing interesting has happened to me after the age of eight”, the age at which he had left his grandparents’ house, the town of Aracataca and the world that inspired his initial work ”.

The filmmaker also talks about the character of his father. “Despite his outgoing nature and apparent comfort with public life, my father was quite a low-key, even introverted person. It does not mean that he was incapable of enjoying fame or that he was unscathed by narcissism, but even so he was always suspicious of literary fame and success. “

And he often recalled that Tolstoy, Proust, and Borges never won the Nobel PrizeNor are three of his favorite writers: Virginia Woolf, Juan Rulfo, and Graham Greene. “Often times, it seemed to him that success was not something he had achieved, but something that had happened to him.”

In addition, Gabo was not intimidated by Eurocentric references, because “he knew that art could flourish in an apartment building in Kyoto or in a rural county in Mississippi, and he had the firm conviction that any remote and rickety corner of Latin America or the Caribe could represent the human experience in a powerful way ”.

He was an omnivorous reader who liked the magazine Hello!, the case study of a doctor, the memoirs of Mohammed Ali or some thriller by Frederick Forsyth, even among his lesser known literary loves was Thornton Wilder and The Ides of March, that stayed on your nightstand for nearly three decades.

He also recovers an anecdote from his first stay in Paris, in 1955, when “one afternoon he visited a woman and tried to extend the visit until he was invited to eat, because he was without a peso and had not eaten in days. (But) after that failed, he rummaged in his trash when he left and ate what he found. “

Halfway through the book, García Márquez’s heart stops and is followed by the paraphernalia and the confusing moments, phone calls. The spread of the news. That day was a Holy Thursday, as happened with Úrsula Iguarán, a key character in One Hundred Years of Solitude.


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The traces of an intimate farewell; Gabriel García Márquez recounts the last days