It was only fitting, in this modern age, that news of the death of Mexican author, diplomat, and social critic Carlos Fuentes, spread via Twitter. And it was just as befitting of his stature that the person who broke the news was the President of México himself, Felipe Calderón.
That kind of acknowledgement from the highest political circles might’ve amused Fuentes; as recently as the 1980s, his name and works were practically verboten in the public-school curriculum mandated by the country’s ruling party of seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Far from being a loyal party subject, Fuentes, the son of a diplomat, resigned from his post as Mexico’s ambassador to France in 1977 after the PRI named Gustavo Díaz Ordaz—the former president who sanctioned the 1968 massacre of student protestors at Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City—to be his colleague. The party also hovered over one of his more celebrated works, The Death of Artemio Cruz.
“There was no need to mention the PRI,” he once told The Associated Press. “It is present by its absence.”
In his absence, Fuentes’ presence will be remembered not just because of his sheer dedication—he published more than 50 works spanning literature, theater, and film, beginning with La Región Más Transparente (Where The Air Is Clear) in 1957—but because of his influence on the other writers who would fuel the Latin American “Boom” movement. As University of California-Riverside Professor Raymond L. Williams told the AP, Fuentes was responsible for galvanizing other preeminent authors, like Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa into a collective.
“It took Fuentes’ vision to say if we unite forces and provide a common political and literary voice, we’ll have more impact,” Williams told the AP. “His home in Pedregal (an upscale Mexico City neighborhood) was the intellectual center what brought a lot of writers together.”
Fuentes was creative, almost literally, to the very end: not only is his latest book, Vlad, scheduled for release this July (“I loved the old Dracula movies,” he told Publishers Weekly)—but an essay he penned on the recent presidential elections in France was published in the Mexican newspaper Reforma the day he died, just 24 hours after his interview with the Spanish newspaper El Día was printed, in which he revealed that he had completed another book, and planned to start another.
So, it’s only fitting to let this consummate man of words speak for himself. Today, we join readers, writers, and fans of the written word all over the world in celebrating Fuentes’ singular vision."
— Read the words and clips of the late wordsmith and man of the world Carlos Fuentes that Arturo García compiled on the R today.
The comics world lost a pioneer last week with the passing of artist Tony DeZuniga, who died in the Philippines from complications from a stroke. DeZuniga is best known for being the co-creator of DC Comics characters Black Orchid and Jonah Hex.
DeZuniga’s association with Hex would span almost four decades: 38 years after introducing the character in All-Star Western in 1972, DeZuniga returned to draw Hex for a stand-alone graphic novel, Jonah Hex: No Way Back.
DeZuniga began working as an artist in his native Philippines as a teenager in the 1950s, during the country’s boom period for comics (or Komics, as they were called). In the early 1960s he moved to New York to study graphic design and advertising, a career he would pursue for a few years before returning to the U.S. toward the end of the decade and earning art assignments from DC editor Joe Orlando. DeZuniga became the first Filipino artist to break into the American comics market.
But more importantly, DeZuniga made sure he wasn’t the last to do so…"
— Arturo García’s obit on DeZuniga is on the R today.
What’s sad is that Whitney’s death was shocking but not surprising. What’s sad is that the news seemed overdue and inevitable. That’s what a Greek tragedy feels like.
I remember standing outside Boiler Room years ago. I had too much to drink and a patron was flirting with me. He was telling me how beautiful I was and how I looked like no one else in the bar. I didn’t know how to respond to this compliment. My mind thought of beauty and in a beer haze I started babbling about Whitney Houston. I told him about my favorite performance: “Why Does It Hurt So Bad.” I gave an aesthetic breakdown of the perfect performance. The way Whitney Houston manipulated and guided the pace. Her body language and delivery. That was beautiful. and in the midst of a meaningless MTV Movie Awards Show.
He nodded along, but I could tell he was pretending. I recognized that nodding. It was “I’ll agree with whatever you want if you like me back.” I wanted him to really understand so I began to further explain why the performance was perfect. He continued nodding like a bobble head and exclaiming “wow” and “so fascinating” as I attempted to break through to him. It wasn’t working. I excused myself, hopped on the subway, and went home."
— Aurin Squire remembers Whitney Houston at the R.