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Upfront
Namesakes
"The Farewell"

by JACQUIE STRAX

New York, NY, Aug 4. Gabriel García Márquez is a writer who has cancer. As a pioneer of "magic realism" in fiction, in 1982 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. García Márquez was born in Colombia and lives mostly in Mexico City. After surviving lung cancer, lately he developed lymphoma.

Gláucio Soares, a Brazilian who is a prostate cancer survivor, sent us a mailing recently of Despedida de García Márquez a sus amigos (García Márquez's Farewell to His Friends), which he had received above the signature GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ. You can read the Farewell and an English translation in our Voices section.

Is it wise to put this text on this site? An Australian online news source, a visitor has written us, is reporting that the Farewell is a hoax and that García Márquez is "embarrased" at this "piece of rubbish."

A writer's every word is a signature. Despedida de García Márquez a sus amigos looks like a paste-up of Gabriel García Márquez, not like his writing. And some of it is marzipan. For example, where he begins his novel Love In Time of Cholera with the smell of apricot kernels (i.e. cyanide), this e-mail has a memory of the taste of chocolate ice-cream.

As a hoax, is it a rip-off? It is a serious matter for a writer's name to be exploited and cheapened on account of his status as a cancer survivor. Are cancer survivors, among others, being tricked into spending their feelings on a fraud?

Funny thing is, people e-mailing The Farewell do not find it embarrassing (although perhaps some receiving it might). Gláucio Soares sent out his copy with the words, "Gente, quanta beleza!" (People, what beauty!) Glaucio says:

There is a discussion on if GGM really wrote this. Regardless of who wrote it, it is beautiful and I thought that it might, just might, help some of us survivors and those who help us to survive to have a better perspective.

Like much other make believe, internet legends and hoaxes act as bait to catch true sentiments. If they arouse genuine feelings and elicit "belief in," people are expected to "wise up" sooner or later and to scoff at their own sensitivity and desire to trust and believe. Anxieties and longings surface. Some people stay convinced and pass the story on, others "see through it" and hit delete or pass it on as a joke.

No doubt this Farewell tells us more about how people would like to feel that a man of dying of cancer should feel than about how Gabriel García Márquez or any individual in his actual situation does feel. Nonetheless, whoever wrote it struck a chord with Gláucio Soares. And Gláucio Soares is surviving prostate cancer with all his might, no faking at all.


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