Living to tell the tale

by Gabriel García Márquez

Other authorsEdith Grossman (Translator)
Hardcover, 2003




New York : A.A. Knopf, 2003.


This work, the first volume of a planned trilogy, is the memoir of Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It contains details of people, places, events, family, work, politics, books and music, his beloved Columbia and parts of history and incidents that later appeared in his fiction.

Media reviews

García Márquez's new book, a memoir called ''Living to Tell the Tale,'' reminds us that what seems so fantastical in ''One Hundred Years of Solitude'' is in fact a reasonable description of Colombia, where ghosts are still central to workaday life and the successor to the civil war depicted in the novel rages to this very day.
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''Living to Tell the Tale'' -- a title that conjures memories of ''Moby- Dick,'' as well as this Nobel laureate's own nonfiction book ''The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor'' -- is the first volume of a planned autobiographical trilogy. But its most powerful sections read like one of his mesmerizing novels, transporting the reader to a Latin America haunted by the ghosts of history and shaped by the exigencies of its daunting geography, by its heat and jungles and febrile light.
Wellicht had die zelfgeschapen werkelijkheid beter mythisch kunnen blijven in plaats van, onder het mom van een autobiografie, een hybridisch boek te worden dat noch helemaal verdichting noch helemaal waarheid is. De pretentie van het laatste heeft de vorm van het boek geen goed gedaan. Feiten en gebeurtenissen volgen elkaar vaak op met een fantasieloosheid (`en toen...', `hoe dan ook...') die een echte roman zich niet had kunnen veroorloven.

Maar in die gebeurtenissen krijgt de verbeeldingsvolle formuleringskracht van García Márquez als van oudsher vrij baan. Zo bedwelmend en sprookjesachtig als zijn kinderjaren, het journalistieke succes en niet te vergeten de talloze gestreelde vrouwendijen hier beschreven worden, zijn ze misschien allemaal niet geweest. Maar wie zou deze verhalen erover hebben willen missen?
Vivir para contarla es la novela de una vida y, a lo largo de sus páginas el lector de García Márquez descubrirá ecos de personajes e historias que han poblado sus inolvidables novelas como Cien años de soledad o El amor en los tiempos del cólera. Además, esta obra incluye muchas más sorpresas. Seguiremos los primeros pasos de García Márquez en el mundo de la creación artística, el trabajo incansable en el proceso de redacción y corrección de La hojarasca, los distintos escenarios de una juventud bohemia plagada de burdeles, bailes y hoteluchos de mala muerte en Barranquilla, Cartagena de Indias y Bogotá. Y todo aderezado con reflexiones sobre el oficio de escritor, en un entramado que avanza y retrocede en el tiempo con la seguridad que sólo pueden dar cincuenta años de oficio maestro.

User reviews

LibraryThing member akritz
So many interesting things happen to this man! It is easy to see why he is such a great writer - he has so much to draw from. I am amazed that his novels include so much from his real life.
LibraryThing member hippietrail
It's true that I couldn't put this book down and it was interesting and it is about the author of my favourite novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. But I guess I expected a little more. Perhaps it's thinner than it would be if Gabo wasn't planning to spread his memoirs over 3 volumes.
LibraryThing member Bob1438
Very boring. I don't care how many times he stayed-up late drinking and singing. It was no fun trudging through 483 pages of blabber to get a few sentences about his approach to writing and opinions about other authors and books.
LibraryThing member alv
The first chapter (until p. 72) and the second (until 135) were almost boring. Once into chapter 3 however, there's a recognizable main character and the book becomes definitely fun to read. García Márquez's expressive power and almost effortless ingratiated writing pervade the tale of a poor, expansive and focused life. A worthy read for everybody interested in journalism, Colombian politics in the first half of the XXth century or just plain good literature.… (more)
LibraryThing member cestovatela
I wanted to love this book. I really did. There were so many achingly beautiful sentences, but as Marquez moves onto his adult life, I got lost in the profusion of names and seemingly irrelevant details. I just couldn't get through it.
LibraryThing member Carmenere
This autobiography is the first of a planned trilogy by the author. Beginning with his earliest memories of his childhood in Aracataca, Columbia, Marquez candidly relates growing up in a close knit and impoverished family. His father, a struggling pharmacist, often had to leave his family in order to squeak out a living in communities in need of his services. His mother would, on occasion, travel with him and left the children in the care of her parents. "Gabito" , the oldest, was often remarked to be the savior of the family and despite their dire financial situation was pegged to be either a lawyer or doctor. The first several chapters are wordy and move slowly but it's quite obvious how his family, their oddities and their experiences became part of his imaginative and magical novels.
The action picks up a bit when as a teenager he leaves Aracataca to continue his education in Bogata at a time when the roots of a revolution are planted and where he meets his life long friend, Fidal Castro.
With Bogata in the midst of chaos he transfers to Cartagena and rather than follow his father's wishes he follows his heart and writes. He's a journalist, an editorialist, an author of several stories that don't amount to much yet he earns enough to help his family and make friends and connections that help him achieve his desires.
The story comes to its conclusion as Marquez is sent to Geneva, Switzerland on his first international story. As he leaves he attempts to re-connect with the young woman who he proposed to at the tender age of 13.

What a cliffhanger! Will they or will they not reunite? I'm sorry to say the story may never be told by Marquez. Since it's been 11 years since this book was published I became curious as to when the next one will be released, or maybe it was and I missed it. Unfortunately, I discovered that, last year, his brother revealed that Marquez, who is nearing 90 years of age, has dementia and has ceased writing. Hopefully, there are enough notes for someone else to complete his trilogy
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LibraryThing member BookConcierge
This is the first in a planned three-volume autobiography, taking the reader from Marquez’s birth in 1927 to his young adulthood in the mid 1950s.

In recounting his early life, the author also tells the history of Columbia – the politics, culture, troubles and triumphs of the people. He talks about his family and the women who raised him. And, of course, he talks about the women he loved, physically if not emotionally.

Marquez cannot tell a tale without some element of magical realism; that style is so ingrained in the oral traditions of Latin America. I loved those little hints in this story of a literary technique that this author perfected and brought to lovers of literature worldwide. In some scenes I was reminded of evenings spent on the porch in the dark of a summer’s evening, listening to my grandparents recount tales of their own childhoods. And while I generally dislike “cliff-hanger” endings, the one employed here was just perfect.

Still, I’m in no hurry to read additional memoirs by Marquez. This one definitely could have used some editing.
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LibraryThing member kambrogi
This memoir by the famous Colombian author will be of little interest to those who have not followed his work, most especially 100 Years of Solitude. For those who have, it will be interesting to see the reality behind his magnum opus and so many of his other stories. Beyond that, only true fans will find much of interest. It covers only his early life, and often seems rather plodding and lackluster.… (more)

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