La Jornada on Monday had a short wire note (link to La Prensa) about the 85th birthday of Alvaro Mutis, the Colombian author who -- like fellow Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- has lived in Mexico City for decades. Mutis told DPA he is not celebrating on August 25 but instead concentrating on finishing his latest adventure of Maqroll the Gaviero, the unforgettable protagonist who has been at the center of Mutis's creative output since the author turned to fiction.
Which is a good thing for Maqroll, who is probably getting antsy and restless as usual about moving on to his next thrilling but hopeless seafaring mission. From the beautiful introduction by Francisco Goldman to the Edith Grossman translation of Mutis's "The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll," one of those rare books you savor page after page:
All of Alvaro's friends know that he speaks of Maqroll the Gaviero as a living person, whom he sometimes has news of, sometimes not. 'He accompanies me,' Mutis told me last year, 'but we are no longer side by side, but face to face. So Maqroll doesn't surprise me too much, but he does torment me and keep me company. He is more and more himself, and less my creation, because of course, as I write novels, I load him up with experiences and actions and places which I don't know but which he of course does. And so he has become a person with whom I must be cautious. I'll give you an example: The other day, in the novel that I'm working on now, I thought, "I'll have him board a ship carrying phosphates, which are highly explosive and very danverous, in Morocco." Would you believe I could actually hear Maqroll saying to me, "Hold on! Don't be a fool! I can't be in Morocco! In Morocco, I'm wanted by the police for that business with the rugs in 'Abdul Bashur, Dreamer of Ships.'" "So, where should he board the ship then...?" "In Tunisia..." "All right then, Tunisia."'
In November, Mutis was the star of the annual Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest in the Spanish-speaking world. At the fair, Mutis's dear friend "Gabo" presided over an homage to the author who turns 85 today.
The upcoming Maqroll novel, by the way, will finally "bring the Gaviero, at least for the first time in print, to a Mexican port of call," Goldman writes.
* Above, Mutis and Garcia Marquez in Guadalajara, via La Jornada.