I've been reading the memoirs of García Márquez—Living to Tell the Tale (which, I might add, I found in hardcover at Green Apple for $9.99)—every night before bed. Since it's usually a little after midnight before I crack the spine, I'm already quite sleepy. Reading about the dreadful heat and oppressive dust of his ancestral home lowers my eyelids, but the unrelentingly lush prose keeps me turning the pages; it's a weird feeling. When I finally do fall asleep, it is directly into some dream filled with parrots and almond trees, old women dressed in mourning, and donkeys. Not so restful.
In this passage, García Márquez describes his first experience as a writer. He is twenty-three years old and has returned with his mother to the house where he was born:
...in the next room we found the crib where I slept until I was four years old and that my grandmother kept forever. I had forgotten it, but as soon as I saw it I remembered myself in overalls with little blue flowers that I was wearing for the first time, screaming for somebody to come and take off my diapers that were filled with shit. I could barely stand as I clutched at the bars of the crib that was as small and fragile as Moses' basket. This has been a frequent cause of discussion and joking among relatives and friends, for whom my anguish that day seems too rational for one so young. Above all when I have insisted that the reason for my suffering was not disgust at my own filth but fear that I would soil my new overalls. That is, it was not a question of hygienic prejudice but esthetic concern, and because of the manner in which it persists in my memory, I believe it was my first experience as a writer.
That, I believe, is the kind of thing described by certain people as "a hoot." And now for your viewing enjoyment, a photo of Gabo and Pablo Neruda circa 1956, delicately filched from The Modern Word:
I don't know what they're doing to this object d'art, but it looks kinda fun.