The Man & His Politics
Garcia Marquez’s mornings have been traditionally reserved exclusively for writing. Awake at six o’clock, he sips a cup of coffee and reads the newspaper in bed. He then puts on his writing gear (blue one-piece coveralls with a front zipper), and if in Mexico City he heads for the specially made bungalow he has in his backyard. There, amid heating to offset the mountain chill, and the background strains of one of his several thousand classical recordings, he works until one or two o’clock, after which he has lunch with family and other intimates, to whom he might dedicate the rest of the day. Anyone wishing to see the man must go through an obstacle course consisting of old friends, the housekeeper, his sons, and his wife and meet with the successive approval of each.
Owing to his hands-on experience in journalism, García Márquez is of all the great living authors the one who is closest to everyday reality. No doubt the trade taught him to write clearly, in a prose style accessible to the general reader. When asked about the influence of the journalist on the novelist, however, García Márquez tends to dwell not so much on clear prose as on the practice of writing regularly with discipline, and also on the custom of including those little details that help make a stretch of prose convincing— much as he did in One Hundred Years with Father Nicanor Reyna’s cup of hot chocolate or with Mauricio Babilonia’s yellow butterflies.
To an unusual degree, García Márquez is the poet of plebeian and street life. It is the world that he claims to know best and to deliberately have cultivated, and in truth few novelists can match the understanding, eloquence, and dignity he brings to his depictions of smugglers, street performers, prostitutes, cockfight gatherings, and other extra-official “people’s” subjects (not to mention workers’ strikes and political uprisings). By the same token García Márquez has all his life written with passion and commitment about popular culture—indeed its vindication has long been a kind of personal mission with him. In his twenties he wrote articles in praise of comic strips and suggested that they may constitute a legitimate literary genre (this some decades before “graphic novels” became an accepted term). Along similar lines he has often eulogized such Afro-Hispanic musical forms as the guaracha, the mambo,