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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

Solitude & Company, Part 5

April 25, 2014 | by

In our Summer 2003 issue, The Paris Review published Silvana Paternostro’s oral biography of Gabriel García Márquez, which she has recently expanded into a book. In celebration of García Márquez’s life, we’re delighted to present the piece online for the first time—this is the last of five excerpts we’ve run this week. Read the complete text here.

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Photo: National Archieef Nederland, via Wikimedia Commons

ROSE STYRON: Somehow, everyone on Martha’s Vineyard seemed to know that he was coming to visit us. Everyone wanted to meet him. Harvey Weinstein, spotting me in Vineyard Haven, hurried over to say, “Please invite me—he’s my favorite author—I’ll sweep the floors.” President Clinton, whom Gabo admired and hoped to talk with, wanted Chelsea to meet him. We decided a large cocktail gathering on our lawn would be prudent, to be followed by a very small seated dinner so the president and Gabo and our Mexican guests, the Carlos Fuenteses and Bernardo Sepulvedas (he was the former foreign minister), could chat in relative quiet. At dinner Gabo’s goddaughter, our friend Patricia Cepeda, translated ably. Our Vineyard neighbors, the Vernon Jordans and the William Luers, and Hillary Clinton completed the table. We all remember that President Clinton’s sweater sported an Elvis crossword puzzle.

WILLIAM STYRON: Although I wasn’t listening closely, I could tell—I have enough Spanish to know—that Gabo and Carlos were engaging him in a talk about the Cuban embargo. They were both at that time passionate about the embargo. Clinton was resisting this conversation, I presume because his mind was already made up. He wasn’t about to be budged even by people that he admired as much as Gabo. So Bill Luers, sitting closer, seeing Clinton’s eyes glaze over, as an ex-diplomat spoke out firmly enough to change the tone of the conversation from politics in Cuba to literary matters. It changed the entire tone at the table. Someone, Bill Luers or perhaps Clinton, asked everyone at the table to give the name of their favorite novel. Clinton’s eyes lit up rather pleasurably. We had a sort of literary parlor game. I recall that Carlos said his favorite novel was Don Quixote. Gabo said The Count of Monte Cristo, and later described why. He said it was the perfect novel. It was spellbinding, not just a costumed melodrama, really a universal masterpiece. I said Huckleberry Finn just off the top of my head. Finally, Clinton said The Sound and the Fury. Immediately, to everyone’s amazement he began to quote verbatim a long, long passage from the book. It was quite spellbinding to see him do that because he then began to give a little interesting lecture on the power of Faulkner and how much Faulkner had influenced him. He then had this kind of two-way conversation with Gabo, in which Gabo said that without Faulkner he would never have been able to write a single word, that Faulkner was his direct inspiration as a writer when he was just beginning to read world literature in Colombia. He made a pilgrimage to Oxford, Mississippi. I remember him mentioning this to Clinton. So the evening was a great success, though a total failure as far as politics went. Read More »

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On the Shelf

January 11, 2012 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • The joy of books.
  • The Hatchet Job of the Year.
  • What Bill Clinton reads.
  • What Michelle Obama doesn’t.
  • And maybe it’s trivial to know that Salman Rushdie loves Carrie Fisher, quotes Clive James and is looking forward to seeing Hari Kunzru and Tom Stoppard at the Jaipur literary festival, but knowing random bits of information about people one admires just is, for whatever reason, enjoyable. It’s like being friends with them, except they have no idea who you are, but it doesn’t matter because this is still closer than you'd ever normally get.”
  • Random House acquires Canadian publisher McClelland & Stewart.
  • Roald Dahl goes postal.
  • Tolkien is snubbed.
  • “First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.”
  • Joanna Newsom, novelist?
  • McBooks.
  • If Norman Mailer likes me, I’ll kill myself.”
  • Sayonara, Nook.
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