A lecture at the Banff Centre for the Arts at Canada
                             By Marco Tulio Aguilera Garramuño
En 1977 fui invitado por el Banff Centre de Canadá y el Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes a una estancia para trabajar en mi proyecto novelístico que he llamado El libro de la vida. Tras una estancia de mes y medio pronuncié dos conferencias: una al principio de la estancia; otra al final. Esta es la segunda. La primera está publicada en este blog.

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in a wealthy family, but when my father died everything changed. My mother, who can be blamed for my literary obsession and my love for life and women, decided to give everything away so we could be poor and happy. So she sold out all the things we had. We took a plane, a very old and impressive plane called superconstellation, and we landed at Miami, Florida. Our final destiny was a very small river port called Port Salerno, where a sister of the boy friend of my mother lived. Time passed by, as usually happens, and we (when I say "we" I mean a mother, six sons and a daughter, plus a man who made my mother happy and even poorer, because he was always inventing ways to spend money, but that is another story that can be read in one of my novels called The game of seduction --no translations available yet--etcétera).

            I return now to the main script: I was saying that time went by and we, for some reason, decided to leave Florida and the United States. I remembered the whole family gathered trying to decide what to do and where to go. There was still some money so we bought a big car, something like a towncar, and planned to follow those big roads to the south. How about going straight to Argentina, where my mother was born, said my older brother. Everybody agreed and soon we hit the road. After a lot of adventures we arrived in Mexico, where we had an accident that caused us to stay several months. Then we continued until we reached Costa Rica, a place in which economic problems created a crisis. There was no more money so we had to stay in that country. We remained there several years, first in Cartago and then in San Isidro del General, which would be the main scenario of my first novel, A brief story of everything. That was the real beginning of my story as a writer. The novel was published in Argentine with a huge publicity campaign which compared me to Gabriel García Márquez. I remember 1975 as the year in which I passed from being nobody to believing I was a genius. The book had a paper wrapping around it in which the following words were printed: From Colombia: In the sixties García Márquez. In the seventies Aguilera Garramuño".

            Of course that kind of publicity was bullshit, but I believed it. By then I was 24 years old. Time has moderated my self esteem and I have learned that I have to work a lot to be, plainly, a good writer. Now I am relatively known in Colombia, México, Costa Rica, Argentine and among academics of many countries, but I am far from being the world wide  acclaimed writer García Márquez is and my works are not yet translated. I live in a small city of Mexico called Xalapa, whose university is one of the most important of the country. Xalapa is a little bit like Banff: it is based among the mountains, has  magnificent air, good water and many artists in all fields: writers, theatre groups, a symphonic orchestra, painters, ceramists, opera singers, etcetera.

            For a writer to live in such a city is a blessing because he can work as much as he wants, but being far away from the centre of decisions, that is to say Mexico City, makes it a little difficult to be noticed. Anyway I have a weekly column in a national newspaper called Unomasuno, c est a dire, oneplusone, in which I write anything I want, with absolute sincerity. No doubt I will write about my Banff experiences and publish it by the end of this year.

            How did I get to be a writer? There are many reasons that I have tryed to state in several of my writings. One of them, a little absurd: I started to practice long-distance running and one day I lost a race and decided to abandon my practice that included up to 20  kilometers a day of cross country and track. All that energy I stored because of my not running developed into the need to do something. That something was writing. The other reason that moved me to write was my absolute enjoyment of reading, an activity that still takes a great part of my life. Reading was for me, as for my mother, like breathing. There is a third reason for my being a writer: from reading to writing the step was very short. The fourth reason was the big, very big energy I have always had to try to seduce any female human being I had at my reach or simply to imagine the way to attain such an objective. Women have always been a primary mystery for me. I have tryed since I knew myself to understand them, so I tried to investigate everything about them. From the 16 books I have published and the six or seven unpublished, 90 per cent are about women. A fifth reason for my being a writer is that I I couldn't be a violin soloist, something I realized when I was 20 or 25 years old.

            Anyway for some reason I am a writer, and it doesn't matter why. The most successful of my books is called Stories for after making love which I wrote lets say 10 years ago. It includes themes of love and eroticism, relations between woman and men, complicated women, aggressive men, tender women, a tormented relationship between a female helicopter and a rhinoceros, four women loving the same man and sharing him, a man and a women that only meet at cheap motels, a gentle love story between a 10 year old girl and a 40 year old man (no sex included, no relation to Nabokov s Lolita).

            Five years ago I wrote the second book of the series --for some reason I write series of books-- called Stories for before making love.  Remember that the title of the last one was Stories for AFTER making love. In this book most of my characters are, guess what, married, but you know, they are not bored married couples but couples that enjoy sex a lot, that fight and live their lives passionately. One of the reasons why these couples keep enjoying life is because they keep alive their imagination, fantasies, and walk always on the verge of infidelity.

            I am going to make a big jump to my most recent short stories. My curiosity towards women is so big that now I am writing from the woman's point of view. The old idea about women as owners of secrets men can't reach, attracts me. Are women more close to earth than men? Let me say I think that that old, very polemic idea, is correct, at least in this sense: women die and renew each month, as nature does. Women receive as the earth does, and produce, as the earth does. Women feel with great intensity though they are stronger to withstand pain. I do believe there are big differences between women and men and there is no argument in the world that could convince me otherwise. You can not make a valley out of a mountain. Of course you can do this with modern techonology, but it's not the same.

            Returning to the plain of this promenade I will speak about a book I will write when I am seventy years old. Its name will be Stories INSTEAD of making love. I don't know the theme --probably it will be about women-- but I know for sure the title.

            Another novel I wrote, which I like very much is called Pleasures lost, not lust, but lost, probably its correct translation would be Lost pleasures.  It's about a privileged young man who is loved by absolutely everybody. He has everything a human being can have: he is handsome, creative, sensitive, talented, free, he loves nature, he is a composer, a writer, he knows everything about plants and their magic effects.

            This novel, Lost Pleasures was an authentic gift of life. The only thing I had to do in order to write this novel, was to follow Adolfo, the main character, a young man from Cali, Colombia, everywhere he went. There you can see me, following Adolfo through streets, mountains, rivers, night and day, and taking notes of every thing he did and said. For this novel I was awarded the National Book Award in Colombia several years ago.

            Speaking about awards I better not forget a little volume of short stories that pleases my wife Leticia very much. It is The great loves and the little loves that was awarded The National Short Stories Book Award in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (Each award represents something important for our family: one award is a car, the other award a house, the third one a new studio, the fourth one a 20 day trip for the whole family to the south of Mexico). The great loves and the little loves is again about married couples, and again about couples in love and in sex, may I say it in such a way? But now it has an ingredient that's a little bit strange: alterations of mind, amnesia, day dreaming and night dreaming, somnambulism, schizophrenic symptoms caused by the daily struggle to maintain a relationship. The main idea is that to live together people must be crazy, not only one for the other, but crazy in itself. The other side of the coin is that people must be crazy to live alone. The general conclusion is that either way people must be crazy: alone or together there is no salvation. The condition of the conscious human being is madness. He or she who is not crazy is in a certain way a mediocrity. Only craziness can permit us to develop as complete human beings.  

            There are lots of books I haven't mentioned. One I wrote half in the United States and half in Mexico. It tells a love story between a difficult women and a writer following the Thousand and one nights. I have to explain this carefully: the man as a means to seduce the woman tells her a lot of stories about his past love affairs. The writer is of course, a liar, and the woman at the end of the novel is a liar too.

            Finally (almost finally) there is what I call my garbage philosophy, books I write under the name of Richard Rubinstein and that are very well sold, much more than my literary books. I write them in a month or so with great irresponsibility making up big phrases about love, happiness, freedom, imagination, etcétera. The titles of this books are What the hell is love, The ten commandments of love  and Wisdom explained. The reason for writhing these books is family needs  and the fountain they flow from are the notes I take from my own reading, particularly from reading Shakespeare's works.

            And finally, I mean really finally, I have to mention the work I have been doing on a very long novel, divided in five volumes, the fourth of which I am finishing now at Banff. The title of the whole thing is The book of life,

and the titles of the first four volumes are  Nights of Venture or Goodbeast, Beautiful life, The little violin teacher and Love fullfilled.  As you may see I am a very ambitious writer, eager to be loved and read, happy to be alive, with a regular life as a husband and a father, crazy enough to jump in any river outside of Banff or to swim across a lake or to be faithful to a woman till death, even while liking every one of the human creatures god has put in earth to make us trip, fall and surrender.
                                               Thank you very much      
                                                Banff, may 8, 1997

Marco Tulio Aguilera