Gabriel Garcia MARQUEZ:
Living to Tell the Tale
Review: Fans of the Nobel Laureate eagerly awaiting this book won't be surprised to learn that it isn't so much a traditional autobiography as an enigmatic journey around the roots of his art. The author's 'tale' goes slipping and sliding back and forth in a welter of beguiling stories as he takes us from his birth in Aracataca in 1927 to his arrival in 1950's Europe. Marquez sets out his stall early arguing that mistaken remembrance and mythologising are essential to the way we construct our understanding of reality. Our lives are the stories we tell ourselves. One of eleven children in a poverty stricken family, he claims that by age four he was already soaking up simple episodes, pulling them apart and rearranging them 'to make their origins disappear'. He recalls standing outside with a Prussian helmet and toy gun greeting passing soldiers, but declares: 'the memory is clear but there is no possibility that it is true'. Reading voraciously, he quickly latched onto 'the secret carpentry' of novels and found beacons to light his path, including Scheherazade and Kafka. Inspiration came from his grandmother's ghost stories, his grandfather's outrageous exploits and the intertwining of Colombian myth and political upheaval. Determined to be a writer he abandoned his law studies and escaped the bloodbaths of 'la violencia' in the 1940's. His first novel 'Leaf Storm' was initially rejected and he would wait until his forties to support himself by writing. Follow one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century on an exhilarating chase through this first volume of a trilogy.