tv [untitled] CSPAN June 22, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT
>> host: i think it is less serious when it says of almost everyone because everyone is in this book and particularly people that are not usually mentioned in the world history. give a couple of examples of the kind of stories that you are telling them that you think characterize what kind of book this is. >> guest: yes, it's my intention was i never know if the result is the level of the good intentions that the good intention was to rescue the studio for the terrestrial rainbow. we are much more than what we are told we are. official history but has
multilayered our past. it is mutilating present history. so, we are much more than what we are told for instance in visible. most people doing history and making history. women suppressed, belittled in official history just released the quality place in. black people, indians, the south of the world, china, india, i don't know. so many callers to be added to our rainbow, which is much more beautiful than the of their one in the sky. >> host: i don't know if
people will realize what kind of book this is because this is not a history book. it is not an awful. it is not a work of nonfiction serious analysis. it is a book of stories. and i think the camera will catch this. this is how long the stories are. sometimes the stories or half a page. most of the time they are between one or one and a half pages. just for fun, would you read the first story in the book just to give an idea? >> guest: bourn of desire -- life alone, no name, no memory, it had hands but no one to touch.
it had a tongue but no one to talk to. life was one and one was known. then desire drew his bow. it split life down the middle and life was to. when they got sight of each other they laughed and and when they touch each other they left again. >> host: i think that is a great example and of course it made me think of genesis. >> guest: they are part of real life aspects. part of daily life. >> host: it's one of the most affectionate pieces in the hundreds of pieces -- 600 short
stories like this. >> guest: yes, 600 very short stories who finally survive after the process of renouncing sacrifice some of fighting the 800 or 850 short stories in the first version but it was composed as a symphony and so it would have a continuation and rhythm and some of the stories were so sad when, they touched my back singing y, and why ugly, am i not beautifully not, and my stupid, why did you sacrifice me? i want to be there.
yes, i said i know what i'm sorry, i can't. this is a problem with these -- allowed to write that there are so many little and short pieces and i am in love with each one of them, but they must appreciate a whole world and some of little pieces i'm sorry but -- >> host: the new wrote another book called the memory of fire. >> guest: three books. >> host: i read that in the 1980's and you do similar things. it's more overtly historical. but the narrative structure is
similar. you start out with a kind of genesis. it is all about latin america. >> guest: about america including north america. the americas, because we are americans in the south. >> host: absolutely. >> guest: we are american also and yes, i was trying in to rescue the collective memory of the americas in three volumes. this was something like 1,000 short stories and this is a mad project because it is the entire world. >> host: the entire world and the entire history. i thought of kafka as i was reading this because i have been a fan but i think people associate you more with the great latin american writers and
i know this is to be in the same sentence with gabrielle garcia marquez is daunting, and those are authors who are household words in the united states. in latin america you are certainly as well known as they are. and what is interesting is all three of you are journalists, and you have this kind of immediacy even though we started out with a peace and we are going to read many more pieces that was at the beginning of everything when man meets woman will you talk about all of the war, to the limit of all kind, the scope is amazing and daunting. i thought we would do a little
bit of biography before we go on with the book. of course your name has been in the headlines and the united states because the president of venezuela, shot is common at our president, barack obama and as a gesture i think of friendship and he gave barack obama this book, open veins of latin america. he gave it to him by understanding in spanish which was a little difficult because obama doesn't read spanish but i think the intention was to give him a book that if you were treated was open his eyes about latin america. there was a lot of discussion about that. what was your reaction when you heard that anecdote that chavez had taken your book to barack obama? >> it's better to be, how is it,
young and healthy than old and sick. obviously happy about it but i was quite unhappy when i was walking on the seashore. everybody -- we are selling so while. this was terrible for me. we are living in a world in which each one of us is becoming a commodity and fuel cell, you do not sell, you are sold or not sold. >> host: the bbc i think did that to you because they mentioned after he gave your book to barack obama it rose to number two on the amazon rankings. and i checked it because of originally it was about 57,000.
my books are in the 100 or the 200,000. but they bounce up and down every day. i notice this week it is around 17,000. so you can be a little bit more humble than you were with the attention -- >> guest: it's not important at all. in life there are some in which quantity and quality may be closer. you may be very successful in the market and the terrible and the quality of books. the best selling author and all of the history of the spanish language [inaudible] he wrote something like 500 soap
operas, and books like soap operas and sold much more than she did so it doesn't mean much. >> host: i think it's significant because this book affected me so much when i was a young man and it turns out that i thought you were such a man of such stature to but it turns out we are almost the same age. >> guest: the book at the beginning -- i tried 02 when the prize from perhaps reconsidering it was not serious enough because at that time it was 1970 when left-wing intellectuals used to believe that if you were not boring and you were not
serious. to be serious you should be boring and this is not a boring book and, well, i suppose i don't know. anyway -- in the first year it was a disaster. it was a complete disaster. later the military dictatorships became my marketing agent and so the book who got wide publicity thanks to this one generous people in uniform accept woodring some months, for six months they could enter freely because they felt it was a
textbook on an adamle of latin america. a textbook on an adamle. and books of medicine were not forbidden. but after this and you begin to realize it was not exactly this. >> host: i want to tell an anecdote i read the book soon after it came out, and my eighth recollection as i had the book with me when i was in chile in 1973 when the military coup overthrew the government of salvador yandi and i stayed on for six years to write about the penalty dictatorship and that book, in your book i think this is the distinction would have been among the books i had to burn in order to be able to stay and chilly along with all the books about yandi government,
the socialist of chile who was overthrown and introduced 17 years of dictatorship by the right-wing penoche regime. and that was an amazing experience that when books are for an american, north american like me that books would be burned and in order to stay in a country he had to perjurer library so i think that is a distinction that of the books that were so good that they were threatening to penoche were the ones that had to be kept here in the memory and not on my bookshelves, and yours was among them. >> guest: it is not an innocent book. it is guilty. and it is an honor to be guilty from the view, the point of view
of the dictatorship. you have been accused of being a pamphleteer because of that. there's a lot of criticism here as the result, which i was offended by because i know the book very well and i know that it is compelling and literature and yes, you definitely make your point of view very clear. but i want to quote from a mexican writer who weighed in on this and said you can say many things about cold work of the latin-american left that it is manichean, that it is extremist, that it distorts or exaggerated, but nobody that reads it comes out on affected. the spanish word was endemic. and i think that is absolutely true that when you start reading
this book or this book, or carried forward, you are outraged, and you learned so much. let's do the biography i said we would do. what happened at the time the military took over the? and you were the editor as a young man, i read marcha when i got involved, it was a left-wing weekly publication. very famous in latin america at the time. >> guest: perhaps the best and guess i was in jail for a brief period and then i went to argentina where i began a magazine called crisis which was a very successful experience.
before i told the selling or not selling is not important. >> host: it's your survival. >> guest: it was important because usually cultural magazine consecrated entirely to cultural subjects at the time 1,000 copies wasn't the best of cases and we sold 75,000, 75, 40,000 which was approved, the evidence that we were in touch with people who were not the usual clients for these sort of things. we were reaching people aside from the usual news basin where you could find them in
bookstores and so on. and this was because we tried to prove in this magazine that culture wasn't only books or films were paintings or plays, but all of the expressions, collective and expressions of identity and all of the way that people find to communicate each other. so, for us will coulter was a sort of communion and that was why did the same importance of that we gave him to the poems was also given to the letters from the prisons new to the dreams of drivers and bosses
working 20, 15, 20 hours. so we were there according to and dreams. when you can't sleep in this exceptional moment or we went to the factories to talk to the workers who never saw the sign because they're working time was from eight to eight so passan was an invisible for them except on sundays. and this was culture. >> host: what years were you in argentina? >> guest: publishing marcha three years and a half, but then -- >> host: you were there in the years prior to the coup in 1976.
>> guest: and some months after but i was obliged to leave because they didn't want me to be in prison and i was obliged to leave argentina because they didn't like to be -- i was obliged to go away. there is a plant in which you cannot distinguish the difference between madness. so i was leaving in such a way -- >> host: i would like to bring in background about that because one of my books is called the condor years and it describes in great detail the period you were living in argentina and the
amazing thing there is absolutely no exaggeration in your feeling that it was madness to stay on argentina at least 22,000 people were killed at the period by the military particularly after the military coup happened. operation condor was to kill people from other countries who had sought exile, people like you and i wanted to ask most of those killed in this period by the military regime were actually killed in argentina. more light in argentina and -- >> guest: it was like to say in the book of some sort of the common market of death. [speaking in spanish] something like this.
latin-american countries have not been able to create a common market in the economy but in repression it was quite successful. >> host: you must have known gutierez who were prominent exiles who were both murdered in this period 1976. >> guest: i was in both the lists on the uruguayan and the argentinian list, so staying there was a -- >> host: it was lucky for all of us that you -- >> guest: for me at once. >> host: you continued to write. >> guest: yes, i went to spain, barcelona and wrote during the years of exile 12 or 13 years. >> host: which other books of yours are translated in english and? >> guest: all of them written
in this period thinks to the military dictatorship's gave me time to write, it was a very difficult experience. all american history, all american history volumes thru short stories telling it as something that you could touch, not ideas but the human touching of history when it is really alive. >> host: in "mirrors" you create a tapestry of stories. there is a flow was from one epic sometimes to cover a thousand years and at page. other times you go back and forth a little bit.
>> guest: we were running not below the line. how is it called in english. >> host: an underground river. >> guest: underground river, like an underground river. music uniting all these different pieces that may turn into a mass, absolutely crazy but it's not. i hope it's not. >> host: one almost inevitably leads to another. i found reading "mirrors" sometimes i would start in the middle, just pick it up and start reading and then be carried forward then because i had to prepare for this i read it all the way through but there is always -- it's almost like a
push rather than a poll and i can't stop. i have to -- the thing i'm reading now makes me read the last little story. how do you create your stories? i think what we should take a break now and then we will come back and talk about that in the second part. >> host: "after words" and several other c-span programs are available for download podcast. war with eduardo galeano and john dinges and a moment. here is a look at upcoming book fares and festivals over the next few months.
exploitation of immigration and conquests and has done this in a number of books, and that wasn't enough just to talk about latin america. he is now taking on the history of the world with his new book, "mirrors." as we broke we were talking about your way of putting these stories together. one of the people i guess there was an interview i read in which you were talking about your way of writing and you use the word [speaking in spanish] which is feeling thinking. >> guest: feel thinking. it is a language, feeling, thinking language able to express the mind and the heart. >> host: how do you collect
your stories so that you actually have those vignettes of 30 or 40 lines? >> guest: trillion to unite this part of ourselves, the mind and the heart and the horrors because if i would be just a writer writing about repression and death and the terrible life of so many people who are leaving the this planet, like leaving it and tell and held them i would be creating reality because reality includes another side and fortunately now we have evidence that reality is not only the starts site we may look
at. there is also some struggle. >> host: what are your sources? >> guest: the reality. for instance i recently of arrived here in the state's. when i was coming the day before i was walking as usual, and a walker and i was sad because my companion, my comrade, my friend, my dog, he was supposed to be a dog died. so i was very, very sad, and this was the dark side of the reality. that day, for five days before arriving here i was feeling everything was