25 Intriguing Facts About GGM from Gabriel García Márquez: A Life by Gerald Martin

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1. He did not “know” his mother until he was 7 years old.

2. His mother had 11 children and his father 15 (four out of wedlock).

3. He said that after his grandfather died when he was a boy, “nothing else of importance ever happened to me.”

4. He was born in Aracataca because his grandfather killed a man in a gunfight and fled to this new town, taking his daughter, García Márquez’s mother, with him.

5. He was reared in a world of spirits, constructed by his grandmother, which conflicted in his mind with the rationalism of his grandfather.

6. He showed early talent as painter, singer, and writer; could probably have made a career as any of these.

7. He was a scholarship boy and shone in every school he studied in; yet always wanted to escape from school and be a writer.

8. He regularly traveled to school on a river steamer up the great Magdalena river to the capital Bogotá.

9. When the Colombian capital Bogotá was sacked in 1948 both he and his future friend Fidel Castro were present and witnessed the events.

10. Even on the tropical Colombian coast he was famous for his wildly colored shirts and yellow socks; he dressed in a garish fashion to conceal his poverty.

11. In Barranquilla he worked as a journalist and in order to save money lived for a year in a brothel nicknamed the “Skyscraper.” In Paris he was for a time reduced to eating scraps.

12. His mother declared, after he won the Nobel Prize, that her greatest source of pride was “having a daughter who is a nun.” When he won the prize she was quoted as saying, “Maybe now I’ll get my telephone fixed.”

13. In his early years as a writer Faulkner and Hemingway were his two favorites.

14. He always seemed to know how to coincide with where things were happening: Bogotá during the Bogotazo, Caracas when the dictator Pérez Jiménez was overthrown, Paris during the Algerian crisis, Havana during the first days of the Revolution, New York during the Bay of Pigs invasion, etc.

15. Like Dante, he decided to marry his future wife Mercedes when she was nine, “a little girl with ducks on her dress,” and proposed when she was fourteen; eventually he married her when she was 26 and he was 31 and they are still married today.

16. He won the Nobel Prize in 1982 and received it from the King of Sweden in a Latin American peasant outfit called a liquiliqui; his great moment was accompanied by 60 Colombian dancers and singers in the Stockholm town hall.

17. He has managed to maintain the friendship and esteem of the King of Spain, Bill Clinton, Big Businessmen, and Fidel Castro.

18. He has 7 houses in 4 countries.

19. He has founded major institutes of film (in Havana) and journalism (in Cartagena, Colombia).

20. He has a yellow rose or tulip on his writing desk each day.

21. He is intensely superstitious and never wears gold.

22. He smoked 60 cigarettes a day until he was almost 50 and has survived two cancers.

23. One of his sons is a successful graphic artist and the other is a highly respected film maker in Los Angeles who has worked on the Sopranos, Six Feet Under and many other TV shows and movies.

24. Most of his novels have been filmed but he has always refused to let One Hundred Years of Solitude be turned into a movie. “They would cast someone like Robert Redford and most of us do not have relatives who look like Robert Redford.”

25. He says he prefers women to men, saying: “I feel safer with women.”


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