“Did my wife put you up to this?” Carlos Fuentes asked me when I insisted he wear a tie for our (AARP VIVA’s) on-camera interview and cover photo shoot. Fuentes, an elegant soul, a gentleman, and a literary master, was also stubborn as a mule. I say this partly as a compliment, for I too am stubborn as all good Basques should be; but I was equally frustrated, for he had already tried my patience the day before when he cancelled our session: “It’s getting late” he had explained, “and I have a lunch date with my wife,” a daily occurrence for the profoundly in-love couple of 35 years.
Fuentes did not wear a tie that day nor any of the cashmere sweaters and shirts we had carefully selected for him, but that was all forgotten the minute the interview started.
He took us all on a ride of emotions as he spoke about his love of history, politics, his country, the loss of two of his children and how he kept their memories alive “by dedicating every word of every book I have written since”, and how it all led him to prolific story telling. “A force beyond my control,” Fuentes explained, “sometimes the stories are complete in my mind before I have the time to write them down”.
The prelude of his last novel, Destiny and Desire ends like this:
“I had a body.” “I was a body.” “Will I be a soul”?
Carlos Fuentes died yesterday. He was 83. Que en paz descanse.
Read my full interview with Carlos Fuentes here.