Telling the Tale

Paul Berman in The New York Times:

Cover-500 The single most thrilling event in Gabriel García Márquez’s life, judging from the biography by Gerald Martin, took place in February 1950, when the novelist, who was 22 and not yet a novelist, though he was already trying to be, accompanied his mother to the backwoods town where he had spent his early childhood. This was a place called Aracataca, in the “banana zone” of northern Colombia. His grandfather’s house was there, and his mother had decided to sell it.

García Márquez himself has described this trip in his autobiography, “Living to Tell the Tale.” But Martin supplies, as it were, the fact-checked version — a product of the 17 years of research that went into “Gabriel García Márquez: A Life,” together with the benedictions of the novelist himself, who has loftily observed, “Oh well, I suppose every self-respecting writer should have an English biographer.” In “Living to Tell the Tale,” García Márquez says that, upon arriving at Aracataca, he entered the house and inspected the rooms. The English biographer, by contrast, observes that García Márquez has also said he never entered. Either way, he saw the house. Childhood vistas presented themselves, and vistas prompted thoughts.

More here.