Title: Vivir para contarla
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
# Pages: 527 (9148)
Travelling for one month means plenty of preparation. One of the most important decisions is what books to take. I read a lot when I travel, plenty of empty hour at airport and bus terminal flies by easily that way. Yet one backpack is too small to carry a pile of books. The obvious choice is a book that takes ages to read. And as I had read War and Peace before, I had to take another one.
The autobiography by GGM has apart from the amount of pages another advantage: it is in Spanish, a language I can speak well, but read only slowly. This was the book I read while in Argentina and its neighbouring countries. Normally I am a quick reader, now I started with 15 pages an hour, instead of the 60-80 I sometimes manage. Throughout the book I manage to read a bit faster, but it always took a big effort to get any further.
The beginning of the book didn’t help too much either. I was bored reading about his childhood, the strange family relations, the adulterous children of his father. I was intruding in parts of his life I’d rather stay out. It confirmed my suspicions about (auto) biographies. Quite often I get to know my hero better than I want to, I end up not liking the person. I really don’t want to read about him losing his virginity to a prostitute who also slept with his younger brother. The story about meeting the husband of a woman he slept with I could have lived without as well.
I read another book in between, then continued this one anyway. It was worth it. I got fascinated by his eye witness account of the troubles in Colombia. I got to know where he got inspiration for several of his stories and novels. I understood more about him as a person.
The book ended with a lot of his troubles to survive as an author. Struggling to make a living he slept on park benches, at friends’ places and takes up several temporary jobs for news papers. Apart from a novelist, he is a great journalist. His collected works as a journalist make for great reading as well. But his Nobel Prize winning literature is as good as a book can get. 100 years of solitude is without argument one of the best books ever written. I’ve got ‘Love in time of Cholera’ waiting on my shelf, but deliberately do not read it yet. I want to know I can read another classic by him. I am looking forward to reading it someday, as much as I am looking forward to the next part of his biography.