The Journalist & Memoirist
García Márquez, we saw in chapter 3, started his professional writing career as a journalist, first churning out personal columns and, later, news stories for the daily press. In many ways he was to stay with the job and its craft. ‘A reporter,” he noted in a Playboy interview, “is something I’ve never stopped being.”1 At different moments in his long life as a narrative artist he would take a break from fiction and produce an item for the leading print media on some signal current event—for example on the case of Elián González, the six-year-old Cuban boy who ended up on U.S. soil in 1999 and, following a vast and bitter legal, political, and popular controversy, was reunited with his father Juan Miguel on the Antillean island. García Márquez wrote eloquently on the topic, vividly reconstructing the sea journey and ultimately, subtly siding with Elián’s father. One version of the account appeared as an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
Much of García Márquez’s journalism, his youthful work particularly, has been gathered in book form and/or studied by scholars. (As an instance, see chapter 4 of this volume.) In addition, prior to 1990, two of his more delightful and exciting short volumes of reportage had consisted essentially of transcriptions, recorded accounts of unusual experiences as recounted to Gabo by the concerned parties themselves—the seaman Alejandro Velasco who survived for ten days in a life raft on the open sea in the Caribbean (The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, 1970; English translation, 1986), and the left-wing Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littín, who, while disguised and underground, shot a documentary right under the noses of the leaders of General Pinochet’s fear-wracked dictatorship (Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín, 1986; English translation, 1987).
In 1996, however, García Márquez came out with a major work of investigative journalism entitled Noticia de un secuestro (News of a Kidnapping). Worthy of any sleeves-rolled-up, tobacco-consuming, streetwise reporter from a city newsroom, the book at the same time bears the seasoned novelist’s mark of literary craftsmanship, with a rigorous formal architecture, frequent and well-placed flashbacks, and even brief moments of strangeness and magic. Chock-full of real-life detail, News qualifies as one of the Nobel laureate’s