This I Believe
An A to Z of a Life
By Carlos Fuentes
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812972542, 352pp.)
Publication Date: May 16, 2006
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In this masterly, deeply personal, and provocative book, the internationally renowned Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, whose work has been called “a combination of Poe, Baudelaire, and Isak Dinesen” (Newsweek), steps back to survey the wellsprings of art and ideology, the events that have shaped our time, and his extraordinary life and fiercest passions.
Arranged alphabetically from “Amore” to “Zurich,” This I Believe takes us on a marvelous inner journey with a great writer. Fuentes ranges wide, from contradictions inherent in Latin American culture and politics to his long friendship with director Luis Buñuel.
Along the way, we find reflection on the mixed curse and blessing of globalization; memories of a sexual initiation in Zurich; a fond tracing of a family tree heavy with poets, dreamers, and diplomats; evocations of the streets, cafés, and bedrooms of Washington, Paris, Santiago de Chile, Cambridge, Oaxaca, and New York; and a celebration of literary heroes including Balzac, Cervantes, Faulkner, Kafka, and Shakespeare. Throughout, Fuentes captivates with the power of his intellect and his prose.
Here, too, are vivid, often heartbreaking glimpses into his personal life. “Silvia” is a powerful love letter to his beloved wife. In “Children,” Fuentes recalls the births of his daughters and the tragic death of his son; in “Cinema” he relives the magic of films such as Citizen Kane and The Wizard of Oz. Further extending his reach, he examines the collision between history and contemporary life in “Civil Society,” “Left,” and “Revolution.”
And he poignantly addresses the experiences we all hold in common as he grapples with beauty, death, freedom, God, and sex. By turns provocative and intimate, partisan and universal, this book is a brilliant summation of an international literary career. Revisiting the influences, commitments, readings, and insights of a lifetime, Fuentes has fashioned a magnificently coherent statement of his view of the world, reminding us once again why reading Fuentes is “like standing beneath the dome of the Sistine Chapel. . . . The breadth and enormity of this accomplishment is breathtaking” (The Denver Post).
CARLOS FUENTES is the author of more than twenty books, including The Death of Artemio Cruz, Aura, The Old Gringo, and The Years with Laura Diaz. He served as Mexico’s ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. He has received many awards and honors, including the Romulo Gallegos Prize, the National Prize in Literature (Mexico’s highest literary award), the Cervantes Prize, and the inaugural Latin Civilization Award. He has also been the recipient of France’s Legion of Honor Medal, Italy’s Grinzane Cavour Award, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award, and Brazil’s Order of the Southern Cross. His work has appeared in The Nation, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and The Washington Post Book World. He currently divides his time between Mexico City and London.
Advance praise for This I Believe
“In This I Believe, Carlos Fuentes brilliantly explores an alphabet of the human condition, from A to Z, from art to politics, from love to death. This is a dazzling book by a truly civilized man.”
–Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
“Erudite, charming, witty, and often moving, this book has a bit of everything and something for everyone.”
–Hugh Thomas, author of Rivers of Gold
Advance Praise from the UK for This I Believe
“[A] passionate engagement with literature and art . . . This I Believe gathers his recent reflections on literature, history and politics, as well as some more intimate explorations of his own private experience. These writings . . . draw together many of the themes and concerns of a rich and vibrant literary life.”
“Stimulating . . . [Fuentes] gives us a personal alphabet of the authors he admires . . . the politics he espouses . . . plus a few of the aesthetic and philosophical truths he has picked up. . . . Magnificent.”
–The Daily Telegraph
“A characteristically dazzling display of Fuentes’ erudition and of a remarkable life, divided between politics and literature, seasoned by success on several continents, and marred by personal tragedy. . . . Rich and imaginative . . . [with] flashes of [Fuentes’] soul.”