BOOKS AND THE CULTURE MArquez in Texas By Louis Dubose Liberty A 33-year-old Colombian writer, traveling alone through Texas in July of 1961, was so moved by the death of Ernest Hemingway that he was compelled to abandon his intinerary to find a place to write. A San Antonio hotel clerk, suspecting his patron’s dark complexion, and likely not entirely sure of the difference between a Colombian and a Mexican, made the prudent decision and refused him lodging. Some 18 hours later a Greyhound-weary traveler sat down in a hotel room in New Orleans a city never so particular about race or ethnicity and wrote “A Great Man Dies a Natural Death.” The article appeared in a Mexico City daily. That a minimum-wage night-clerk sent a Nobel Laureate packing now becomes a part of the literary apocrypha of our state. Gabriel Garcia Marquez this month was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. It was One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez’s 1967 obramaestra, that won him his place in the literary spotlight. When in May of 1971, Steve Barthelme, in a Texas Observer review, teased, urged, and cajoled Observer readers to go out and buy this book, a Louis Dubose is a teacher in the Liberty public schools. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78i31 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip foutunate few of us marched to the bookstores and paid the $7.95 for the Gregory Rabassa translation. Today, Barthelme’s suggestion that Garcia Marquez had written the novel of the Americas reads like a pretty fair assessment; within three years of its publication in Spanish the chronicle of the Buendia family had won accolades in France, Italy, and the United Staes, and literary cartographers had made a place for the mythical village of Macondo. Beyond his native Colombia, Garcia Marquez’s name was only known within a few small literary and journalistic circles, until the 1967 publication of One Hundred Years. At home, his serialized Relato de unNaufrago, which in 1955 appeared in the liberal Bogota daily El Espectador, had attracted the attention of the paper’s readership, as well as the Gustavo Rojas Pinilla government. The narrative of a 20-year-old Colombian sailor washed from the deck of a destroyer dangerously overloaded with contraband refrigators, washers, and televisions \(purchased in sustained source of ridicule for the insecure military government of Rojas Pinilla. \(The general later ordered the doors of El Espectador In the early sixties, Garcia Marquez went to work for Castro’s Prensa Latina before realizing that his medium was the novel, not the newpaper. He has been an open critic of the military oligarchs of Latin America \(he refers to them as avoided the novel of social protest, which he described in a 1968 interview, with Spanish journalist Miguel Fernandez Braso, as a genre overworked by Latin American writers. Why continue the legendary RAW DEAL Steaks, Chops, Chicken open lunch and evenings 6th & Sabine, Austin No Reservations to retell an all too familiar story of our own oppression and injustice, he argued. What the Hispanic reader awaited was “a novel that would reveal to them something new.” What Garcia Marquez offers is a finely wrought masterpiece of the imagination, the chronicle of six generations of the Buendia family of the village of Macondo. Macondo, founded by the Buendia Patriarch, Jose Arcadio, who spends the last quarter of his life tied to a chestnut tree because of his insanity, is, in the beginning, an isolated village of 20 adobe houses on the bank of a river of clear water, in a country very much like Columbia. The arrival of representatives of the the tranquil life in Macondo. And the political rite of passage of Aureliano Buendia is described in terms that are as easily understood in McAllen, Texas as in Macondo: At eight o’clock on Sunday morning a wooden ballot box was set up in the square, which was watched over by the six soldiers. The voting was absolutely free, as Aureliano himself was able to attest since he spent almost the entire day with this father-in-law seeing that no one voted more than once. At four in the afternoon a roll of drums in the square announced the closing of the polls and Don Apolinar Moscote sealed the ballot box with a label crossed by his signature. That night, while he played dominoes with Aureliano, he ordered the sergeant to break the seal in order to count the votes. There were almost as many red ballots as blue, but the sergeant left only ten red ones and made up the difference with blue ones. Then they sealed the box again with a new label and the first thing on the following day it was taken to the capital of the province. “The Liberals will go to war,” Aureliano said. Don Apolinar concentrated on his domino pieces. “If you’re saying that because of the switch in ballots, they won’t,” he said. “We left a few red ones in so there won’t be any complaints.” “If I have to be something I’ll be a Lib eral,” Aureliano later tells a group of 20 NOVEMBER 12, 1982
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