Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jaime Manrique / A Writer

Jaime Manrique
by Jaime Manrique
BOMB 121/Fall 2012

Edith Grossman When did you decide that you were going to be a writer? Was this decision sparked by a book or series of books?
Jaime Manrique I came to writing through my love of books. I was asthmatic as a child. Colombian television was in its infancy then, and therefore primitive, so I read—voraciously—everything I could get my hands on. Everything except the textbooks for school, that is. By the time I was 14 years old, I had read the two volumes of Vanity Fair in a couple of days andWuthering Heights 18 times. I slept with a copy of Crime and Punishment under my pillow. Balzac, Flaubert, Tolstoy, George Eliot, and Dickens were my favorites. I used to cross the streets of Barranquilla while reading; my mother’s alarmed friends would call to tell her I was going to end up being killed by a bus. The rest of the time I spent at the movies. As a child, and as an adolescent, I lived in a world of fantasy that, by comparison, made life very boring and the people I knew unexciting. Family members would say, “If you don’t stop reading all the time, you’re going to end up going mad like Don Quixote.” When we read excerpts from Don Quixote in the ninth grade, unlike everyone else in class (the teacher included), I thought Don Quixote was saner than anyone I knew. Besides, I could not understand what was so great about living in reality.

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