The writer who was ‘killed’ by García Márquez

This year, Colombian writer Andrés Caicedo would have turned 66 had he not taken his own life at the age of 25, leaving behind a masterpiece that is still celebrated today.

The story of Andrés Caicedo is one of a cursed writer.

The story of Andrés Caicedo is one of an author who saw hardly any of his work in print.

The story of Andrés Caicedo is one of a bohemian who breathed life and genius into the concept of Caliwood (Cali + Hollywood).

The story of Andrés Caicedo is one of a multidisciplinary artist who took his own life at the age of 25, depriving us of the chance to enjoy a lifetime of work. 

A prolific author committed to culture. Those who knew him – many of whom feature in the documentary Unos pocos buenos amigos (A Few Good Friends) by Luis Ospina – emphasise his constant appetite for renewal.

To shake up the establishment: he drove forward the feature film in Colombia at a time when documentaries were the norm. He formed the literary group Los Dialogantes, set up the Cali film society and conceived of the magazine Ojo al cine.

And the music.

Music was always present in his life. Unos pocos buenos amigos explores the varied musical styles that informed his urban literary style. From the Stones to Héctor Lavoe, from the Beatles to Bobby Cruz. ¡Que viva la música! (Long Live Music!) was the title of the last book he wrote before he died. Caicedo took his life just after his first novel was published. 

Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Caicedo said that to live past 25 was absurd. It was his third attempt, and this time it was successful. He had finally put an end to the torment that was his life. The first time he’d attempted suicide he’d sent a letter to his mother. Reading it will make your hairs stand on end, no matter how heartless you think you may be:

 

Mamacita: Cali, 1975.

One day you promised me that whatever I did, you’d understand. Please try to understand my death. I wasn’t made to live any longer. I feel a terrible weariness, a disappointment and a sadness, and I know with every passing day, those feelings are slowly killing me. So I would rather get it over with now.

For you I have nothing but affection and sweetness. You’ve been the best mother in the world and I’m the one who is losing you, but my act is not one of defeat. I have everything to gain because I’m convinced that I have no other way out. I was born with death inside and all I’m doing is removing it so I can stop thinking and find some peace. 

…Remember only me. I’m dying because I’m not yet 24 and already I’m a senseless anachronism, and because, ever since I turned 21, I’m incapable of understanding the world. I’m incompetent with money and don’t know how to cultivate influential relationships. And I’m incapable of resisting love: it’s stronger than all my defences and has torn them down.

…Leave something behind and die in peace. This act was premeditated. Premeditate your death too.

It’s the only way to beat it.

My dearest mother, if it hadn’t been for you, I would have died years ago. This idea has been in my head ever since I was capable of thought. Now my mind has lost its way, and I do this to stop the suffering.

 

With his proto-emo air and dynamic writing style, Caicedo, like Roberto Bolaño, has been included in the Generación Sin Cuenta. Like Bolaño, he was born in the fifties. Far from ‘the boom’, another Chilean, Alberto Fuguet, wrote: ‘Caicedo is the missing link of the lost boom. He is the first enemy of Macondo. I don’t know if he committed suicide or maybe he was killed by García Márquez and the dominant culture of those times. He was less the rocker that the Colombians want and more an intellectual. A super-genius tormented nerd. He was imbalanced, and felt anguish at living. He was uncomfortable with life. He had problems standing on his own two feet. And he had to write to survive. He killed himself because he saw too much.’

Because he saw too much.


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