June 16, 2021

The last hours of Gabriel García Márquez evoked by his son

Mercedes Barcha and Gabriel García Márquez in 2008, in Los Angeles.

Mercedes Barcha and Gabriel García Márquez in 2008, in Los Angeles.

“Here I am in front of the firing squad,” says Rodrigo García with a joke when facing the press like Aureliano Buendía. And not because he is the important film director that he is, but because he has decided to place himself on the same ground as his father, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, writing. If a few days ago, in this newspaper he presented his latest work as a director with Glenn Close, now, from Buenos Aires, and through Zoom, he talks about ‘Gabo and Mercedes: a farewell’ (Random House Literature), an exciting book in its containment in which it recounts the last three weeks of the patriarch’s life in 2014. García knew that the book, written in English – “because it is the language in which I write the scripts and with which I have more fluency and speed,” he says, aware of the irony, could not be published while his mother lived. But the life of Mercedes Barcha, the ‘Gaba’, ended the summer of the pandemic and the book, in which she also talks about that end, was imposed on her.

“I tried to find the balance of personal memories without being too sentimental, too forgiving of myself. I also made the decision not to name anyone from my father’s inner circle, apart from my mother, my brother Gonzalo and Álvaro Mutis, who preceded him a year in death, ”he explains. The initial idea was to fulfill for him the impossible desire of the writer to relate his own death, he who imagined so many endings for his characters. “Well, that’s one of the excuses I’ve given myself to do it, because no one can actually write for someone else.” And it is that with death, he assures, “parents become gigantic figures [sí, también ocurre con García Márquez] although after the transit you can see them more clearly and can also recognize their defects ”. And with the disenchanted style typical of the family, he explains how “life has a great sense of humor, since with the passage of time one looks more and more like his father.”

The magic of the birds

The book collects beautiful and little known stories. Some would be said to have been invented by Gabo himself if they weren’t real. Like discovering that the day he died, on Holy Thursday, a disoriented bird apparently collided with the glass of a window in the family home and fell into the author’s favorite chair. Well, Úrsula Iguarán, one of the great characters of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, died precisely on Holy Thursday and shortly afterwards several birds crashed against the walls of the house. Realism? Magical? Maybe

Rodrigo also has words for the current Colombia gripped by dissatisfaction and the dead. “What is happening in Colombia? A perfect storm: years of social injustice, people fed up with drug trafficking and violence, from the abuse of the police, hit by the pandemic and by taxes on the middle class and workers. Gabo would be very sorry and I am sure that he would have been involved in the proposals ”. That is why it is not surprising that the fragments of One Hundred Years of Solitude in which the massacre of the banana workers of 1928 is recounted are today one of the texts that accompany Colombians in their struggle.

Do what you want

Inevitable is also asking Rodrigo García about the two audiovisual projects based on his father’s literature that he is going to produce. The first, the ‘News of a kidnapping ‘ As a series for Amazon Prime, he is quite advanced, while he supervises the work of the Puerto Rican José Rivera, screenwriter of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ for Netflix, a series that will show the adventures of the Buendías over two seasons. What has changed now for that story to be filmed, when Gabo repeatedly refused to have it brought to the screen. What has changed is the format. My father never thought that a movie could be made of several hours, he was also afraid that it would be shot in English, with Hollywood stars and the effect would be very strange. But Netflix has promoted productions in the different local languages ​​that can be seen around the world. So it will be shot in Spanish and if possible in Colombia ”. In addition, he adds, there is the definitive blessing of the father: “When I am not there you do what you want.


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