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Critics agreed that Gerald Martin excels at everything a literary biographer needs to do. He searches for the origins of the author’s style without becoming overly erudite or psychological, and offers “consistently first-rate readings” of his works (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Martin also places the great Latin American novelist in the context of world literature. But while some reviewers felt that if “Martin has left any stone unturned it’s hard to imagine what that might be” (Christian Science Monitor), others were dissatisfied by Martin’s failure to interrogate his subject’s relationship with the former Cuban president Fidel Castro, which prompted a few to wonder what else the author left out. A bit of pop psychologizing regarding Latin America troubled some critics as well. However, this book may be as close to the great author as we’re likely to get. Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
Gerald Martin's biography of the Nobel Laureate, "Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life," is an extraordinary and gripping book. Rich in information and helpful insight regarding Gabriel Garcia's likes and dislikes and obsessions, this marvelous biography reads like a novel, and it is bound to fascinate its readers,
Gabriel Garcia was less than a year old when his mother left him to the care of her parents. He was too young to have had any memories of her, and so when she returns six years later, he doesn't recognize her. He is deeply perplexed when he realizes that he does not love her. He does not love her because he did not even know her. She leaves him again, quite soon.
The author has written quite admirably about Gabriel Marquez's affair with the Spanish actress Tachia Quintana and Gabriel's friendship with Fidel Castro and his empathy with liberals and leftists.
Gerald Martin writes well. He is especially good at describing the small villages and towns and banana plantations of Colombia and its rich topography. His descriptions of Colombia's natural beauty are vivid. This biography grips a reader's attention from the very beginning, and holds it to the very end: "One hot, asphyxiating morning in the early 1930s, in the tropical coastal region of northern Colombia, a young woman gazed through the window of the United Fruit Company train at the passing banana plantations. Row after row after row, shimmering from sun into shade."
Those who love Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novels will find this book quite helpful in understanding several of his puzzling obsessions. For example, the author explains why Gabriel has written almost obsessively about illegitimate children in many of his novels: his family had so many of them! This is truly a very detailed, fascinating biography, meticulously written.
I have long been an avid reader of Latin American literature, but this biography sent me running to the Internet to find out more details about people and places mentioned in Gabriel García Márquez' life. Gerald Martin does a superb job of letting the reader penetrate the backgroud and the events that produced what many consider to be the world's masterpieces in Spanish. I read the entire book in two days, and I will read it yet again...well worth your time. Extremely well done. I especially loved the last paragraph!
Gerald Martin has taken on an outsized task in this book which defines Gabriel Garcia Marquez's long and complex life and his resulting outlook. It is obviously a labor of love, spanning almost 20 years.
The work is chronological, tracking his life and its synergic literary output. Martin shows how GGM's novels illustrate the scenes, people and tenor of his unusual youth in a politically unstable county. GGM pulls from the experience of his home region which he never really leaves despite a long departures and the purchase of foreign residences. He essentially marries the region in marrying Mercedes to whom he proposed in their adolescence. Despite their pre-marital differences in life experience, the marriage worked and still holds together after 50 years. Like the marriage, his life takes long and circuitous routes back home.
Martin takes the reader through what might be GGM's deepest thoughts as expressed through his novels and political writing. The saga covers continents and powerful international events. Over time, the early passion for socialism peels away. It is not expressed in words, but what else can be made of GGM having dictator friends who imprison and/or execute his intellectual colleagues? There is no real answer as to why he tolerates these leaders who trample on human rights, sometimes with their bank accounts full of the country's money. GGM points to the few he's used his influence to save, but the argument is weak considering the enormity of the rights violations of these leaders whom he supports.
There are many episodes that could be their own books (some have extensive treatment elsewhere as noted by Martin).Read more ›
this captivating book at once encapsulates the idiosyncracies of latin american history experienced by GGM and explains his writing in the context of the world as he has lived it, in the way only a gifted literary critic could do. inmensely readable, entertaining, relatively objective, and truly informative. It is only "relatively" objective because Professor Martin is clearly not immune to the charms and charismatic appeal of his subject; however he strives to explain the positions of those who disagree or dislike his subject. This is an engrossing and most readable introduction to latin american intellectual and political life in the later 3/4's of the 20th century, and includes important references to the complex relationships of its intellectuals with its former colonizer, with France, and with the US. Professor Martin interviewed an impressive array of intellectual and political power brokers from Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Spain, France, and the US, in addition to a very extensive network of his subject's lesser known friends and relatives. Despite the participation of so many high powered personae, the book does not dwell on their fame, but rather limits their participation to shedding light and understanding on this most remarkable of writers. Additionally, this book serves as a fascinating, informative and remarkably clear portrayal of Colombian history since c. 1920 that will be helpful to all who are either curious about the country or who struggle to understand its labyrinthine and violent complexities.