Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Literary Icon Carlos Fuentes Dead at 83

There has been a universal outpouring of love and remembrance for Carlos Fuentes since the death of the Mexican literary icon was announced yesterday. As The New York Times reminds us, “Mr. Fuentes was one of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world, a catalyst, along with Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar, of the explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and ’70s, known as El Boom. He wrote plays, short stories, political nonfiction and novels, many of them chronicles of tangled love.”

Fuentes, 83, died Tuesday in Mexico City, where his doctor had found him at home with an internal hemorrhage. He died later in hospital.

Over at NPR, Linton Weeks recalls spending time with Fuentes in Washington, DC in 1995 when he was interviewing the author for The Washington Post. Weeks’ recollections offer a visual and intellectual portrait of the man and are among the most tactile and personal I’ve seen. Writes Weeks:

He wound up following his father into diplomacy and, of course, becoming one of the greatest writers of his generation, along with his friend Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The books of Fuentes were -- like the man himself -- a melange of age and youth, politics, philosophy, popular culture and sexuality.

Drawing his portrait for The Post, I described him as movie-star suave and good-looking. His cologne smelled of limes. The hair behind his temples was brushed back and, as I wrote then, looked like small silver wings above his ears. His gray mustache was supergroomed. To me, he looked like William Faulkner or Claude Rains in Casablanca.

During our hours together, over a couple of days, I asked him about many things:

What is the trick of describing someone? "I use a lot of film images, analogies," he said. "And imagination."

I asked him about his writerly fascination with sex. "Sex," Fuentes said, "as anything else in life, is an avenue to literature. Without literature, it would have no meaning. I am a literary animal. For me, everything ends in literature."

In 2000, January Magazine offered a review of an excerpt of Fuentes then-current novel The Years With Laura Diaz. You can see that excerpt here.



Anonymous Shelley said...

Sex as an avenue to literature! That's great.

Rest in peace to someone who will always be remembered.

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 8:13:00 AM PDT  

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