DF Dispatch

From Mexico City, co-editor Tim Girven uncovers the perfect mascot for our book:
The Latin American Camus

Whenever a conversation touches on literature and football, it's a commonplace to cite Albert Camus and his time as a goalkeeper for Racing Universitaire d'Alger juniors.

That was in the 1930s, an era when Latin America had its very own arquero literario, a literary goalkeeper who, in the opinion of Gabriel García Márquez, produced "one of the outstanding short stories of the twentieth century".

Born in Mexico City in 1911, the football world knew him as Paco Peláez. He always took to the field in a flat cap (rather like my co-editor Jethro in the campaign video), and wore a high-necked jersey, earning himself the nicknames El Elegante and Adonis.

In his youth, Peláez played for Asturias F.C., a Mexico City club that brought together Asturian immigrants and which, in 1920, under the guidance of Scottish coach Gerald Brown, won its first trophy, the Copa Covadonga. The club subsequently went on to become the first champions of Mexican football's professional era (in 1944), and to this day holds the record for most cup wins (eight). Peláez' career, however, was cut short when the studs of Juan 'El Trompo' Carreño caused him permanent kidney damage. (Carreño became famous for scoring Mexico's first ever goal at the Olympic Games (1928) and the World Cup (1930).

The same year that Asturias F.C. won the Mexican league, a hitherto unknown writer by the name of Francisco Tario published The Night (La Noche), a collection of stories featuring 'The Night of Margaret Rose '(La noche de Margaret Rose), the short García Márquez holds in such high esteem. The book is considered something of a curiosity, a place where "the impossible co-exists alongside the routine, the tragic turns comical, the absurd, irredeemably logical."

That Francisco Tario and Paco Peláez were one and the same, that the former was the pen-name of the latter, only became known years later, by which time Tario/Peláez had published a number of other works, including Equinox (Equinoccio), a book of aphorisms so strange it's regarded by many as being unique in Latin American literature. Here's a snippet:

To fear: to fill up with smoke inside.
The pornographic spectacle of a person who never laughs at the right time.
To roll – the first infinitive verb.
I am not the sort of man to give out advice, but I will say one thing: Look at the clouds passing by, look at the swallows as they swoop, the spray as it splashes on the rocks; look at the rain, look at the wind blowing in the sand; look, look very carefully at the naked woman. A salutary warning.

Despite a prolific output, and friendship with major literary figures such as Octavio Paz, the unclassifiable nature of his work meant that Tario remained firmly outside the mainstream. He eventually left Mexico for Spain, settling in Madrid, where he wrote and was published right up to his death, and indeed beyond it: a bundle of manuscripts was found hidden in a piece of baroque church furniture and published posthumously, as Tario acquired something of a cult following. The last of them was Two Black Gloves (Dos guantes negros), a fitting title for a literary goalkeeper.

To the best of my knowledge, none of Tario's work has yet been translated into English.

This text was published in Spanish here: http://nevillescu.com/2013/12/20/francisco-tario-el-arquero-literario/

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