The Interview

Gabo probably did not know that he was following that insight. He “drifted into a serious case of writer’s block,” contends Bell-Villada: “Barring a found manuscript that will prove things otherwise, one can safely state that from 1961 through 1964 Garcia Marquez was unable to come up with a single new, strictly ‘literary’ piece. Future biographers and memoirists may well give us day-to-day details and the probable causes—financial pressures, demands from his job as well as film work, and personal dissatisfaction with the formal features of his writing thus far—of the writer’s creative slump.”59

Two events in 1965 set up a critical rupture. The first was the arrival of Luis Harss, a Chilean who had conceived a book on the “Boom,” to interview the ten leading Latin American authors. Harss was a cosmopolitan, whose fluent English letters can be found in the archives of American poet Paul Blackburn and elsewhere and he was prospecting for new voices.60 On the basis of Gabo’s early work and the emotional energy that he sensed, Fuentes urged Harss to take a look at Garcia Marquez, who was not in the outline approved by the publisher. This interview, like the book review by Vargas Llosa a year later, would be of crucial import. But it is fair to ask why Harss, poised to become an important gatekeeper, undertook it. We can suppose that he trusted Fuentes’ opinion. And why not, since Fuentes was arguably the most successful younger Latin American writer at that time.

This is a good example of what Collins terms the “band-wagon effect,” a cascade of approvals that changes the field. Another explanation, in the terms of prospect theory, would be that rare events and vivid outcomes—such as the potential success of Garcia Marquez—have an important framing effect on risk-taking. The upshot of this interview would be to suggest that the world was waiting for Garcia Marquez, that he was merely dormant. Harss would create a memorable persona for him, that of a man “stocky, but light on his feet, with a bristling mustache, a cauliflower nose, and many fillings in his teeth. ... He is like a jeweler polishing his gems. ... He talks fast, snatching thoughts as they cross his mind, winding and unwinding them like paper streamers . A casual tone with a deep undertow suggests he is making a strategy of negligence. ... What matters is what is left unsaid.”61

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