Monday, August 31, 2009

Maaaeeestro!

Gabriel Garcia Marquez on meeting Ernest Hemingway, writing in the New
York Times in 1981:

Irecognized him immediately, passing with his wife Mary Welsh on the
Boulevard St. Michel in Paris one rainy spring day in 1957. He walked
on the other side of the street, in the direction of the Luxembourg
Gardens, wearing a very worn pair of cowboy pants, a plaid shirt and a
ballplayer's cap. The only thing that didn't look as if it belonged to
him was a pair of metal-rimmed glasses, tiny and round, which gave him
a premature grandfatherly air. He had turned 59, and he was large and
almost too visible,but he didn't give the impression of brutal
strength that he undoubtedly wished to, because his hips were narrow
and his legs looked a little emaciated above his coarse lumberjack
shoes. He looked so alive amid the secondhand bookstalls and the
youthful torrent from the Sorbonne that it was impossible to imagine
he had but four years left to live.

For a fraction of a second, as always seemed to be the case, I found
myself divided between my two competing roles. I didn't know whether
to ask him for an interview or cross the avenue to express my
unqualified admiration for him. But with either proposition, I faced
the same great inconvenience. At the time, I spoke the same
rudimentary English that I still speak now, and I wasn't very sure
about his bullfighter's Spanish. And so I didn't do either of the
things that could have spoiled that moment, but instead cupped both
hands over my mouth and, like Tarzan in the jungle, yelled from one
sidewalk to the other: ''Maaaeeestro!'' Ernest Hemingway understood
that there could be no other master amid the multitude of students,
and he turned, raised his hand and shouted to me in Castillian in a
very childish voice, ''Adiooos, amigo!'' It was the only time I saw
him. [...]

The rest of this article lives here:

<http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/26/books/gabriel-garcia-marquez-meets-ernest-hemingway.html?&pagewanted=all>