Cartoon of the night by Benjamin Schwartz. For more: http://nyr.kr/QT7qx9
That was how the first of seven boys and four girls was born in Aracataca on March 6, 1927, in an unseasonable torrential downpour, while the sky of Taurus rose on the horizon. I was almost strangled by the umbilical cord, because the family midwife, Santos Villero, lost her mastery of her art at the worst moment. But Aunt Francisca lost even more, for she ran to the street door shouting, as if there were a fire, “A boy! It’s a boy!” And then, as if sounding the alarm, “A boy who’s choking to death!”
There was rum that the family assumed was not for celebrating but for rubbing on the newborn to revive him. Miss Juana de Freytes, a great Venezuelan lady who made a providential entrance into the bedroom, often told me that the most serious risk came not from the umbilical cord but from my mother’s dangerous position on the bed. She corrected it in time, but it wasn’t easy to revive me, and so Aunt Francisca poured the emergency baptismal water over me. I should have been named Olegario, the saint of the day, but nobody had the saints’ calendar near at hand, and with a sense of urgency they gave me my father’s first name, Gabriel, followed by José, for Joseph the Carpenter, because he was the patron saint of Aracataca and March was his month.
—Gabriel García Márquez, “Serenade,” Personal History, February 19 & 26, 2001
Translated, from the Spanish, by Edith Grossman.
Unlike the interviewer, I never had to read Ethan Frome in high school, although I knew friends who did. They, categorically and without reservation, hated it. It was an even more searing and uniform hatred than the one engendered by people who are too young reading The Scarlet Letter and Great Expectations too fast. Veterans of the Wharton trenches looked like they’d rather have shot off a useless toe rather than spend one more second on the front.
I’ve never been particularly interested in Wharton ever since. So I’ve got to hand it to Franzen; now I really want to read The Age of Innocence. It may be due to the fact that I was as addicted to Mad Men as I was to thrillers like Breaking Bad by the middle of the first season, meaning that I’m jacked and amped for period dramas about manners and social cruelty these days. Any thoughts on Wharton from the crowd?
A carolling cartoon of the day. For more cartoons from this week’s issue: http://www.newyorker.com/humor
I actually L.O.L.’d at this, which means my deepest and most terrible fear is true: I am some horrible combination of Stanley and Oscar from The Office. More importantly, I am now officially an old person.
I Love Winnie Cooper
“Winnie Cooper was, in a sense, the first pretty girl to smile at me—at all of us—and for that reason, because of her...
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found…”— John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“[It could mean something.
It could mean everything.]
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.”— Mary Oliver, from “...