As the three of us settle around the large round table in the middle of the room, he still looks harried and exhausted.  I hand him the galley.  The cover letter from Barry  states that we needed to have his comments within three days and that he should restrict his changes to the facts and the possible distortion in translation. As he reads on, I see the congenial expressions of his face turning slowly first into disgust and then visible anger. “I am furious at Playboy.”  He is livid as he hurls the pages in his hands on the table with a loud thud. “I feel betrayed because Claudia (Dreifus) had promised that I would have the right to make any changes in the interview before its publication. And that I would be given enough time to be able to thoroughly go through it.”   He continues on,  telling me that  the interview was conducted several months ago, why couldn’t have they sent him the typescript in the interim?  In fact, he was given to understand that it  was postponed indefinitely. “ Now just because I have won the Nobel Prize, Playboy suddenly wants to have it yesterday! Had I not won the Nobel, they probably would have killed it entirely.”

I am not quite prepared for his emotional outburst and the Latin temper.  I am one of his biggest fans,  I tell him,  and he realizes that it comes from the heart.  I tell him that the Nobel or not, he is one of the most important literary figures of our time.  If Playboy thought any lesser of him, they wouldn’t have sent a personal emissary to hand carry it to him and to show him our goodwill.. And I ask him, were he still reporting for El Tiempo or El Espectador, would he not want to run the interview with himself right now?

“But I don’t need any more publicity!” He says lamely. Still looking quite angry.

“Sr, García Márquez, if  I may. This interview is not meant to publicize you. But to give your readers a deeper understanding of your ideas and your philosophy. As you know, Playboy has published many of your fictions. I have read all of them and also two of  your books.  I read our interview with you on my flight over here, and I must say as one of  your avid fans, it has enlightened me enormously of my understanding of you as a man and of your work,  more than ever before. And I am sure, so would your readers around the world.”

I realize I am pontificating, but he could sense that I am being honest. It hits home and  seems to calm him down somewhat. He promises to get back to us within the requested time frame of three days.  Before I leave, he switches to a conciliatory tone in that we talk about insignificant things for a few minutes and then about the Indian Nobel winner, the poet Rabindranath Tagore. He then apologizes profusely for taking it all out on me, but then concludes with pragmatic “that’s what happens to the messengers!”

On my way over to see him, I had wanted to ask some additional questions to update the interview, but the way things turned out, it just wasn’t in the cards. At the very last minute all I can think of asking him was something I had read in that week’s Time magazine, in which he had said that to accept his award in Stockholm, he intends to wear the traditional Mexican guayabera, a light weight shirt worn outside  the trousers. When Time asked, his answer: “To avoid putting on a tuxedo, I’ll stand the cold.” When I referred to it and asked him; why? His answer to me is: “Superstition.” More like it. Something a character of magical realism would say.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5