Andrés Caicedo: 25 Years of Rumba Versus 100 of Solitude
A powerful short work that is only just beginning to be read as it deserves to be.
Andrés Caicedo is a fashion phenomenon, but not necessarily a new one: every now and then signs of the same illness are seen, in different continents and arts. The archetype is the same: the child hero, the Peter Pan who refuses to participate in the adult world (the epitome of which is Arthur Rimbaud). And although the archetype persists and is glorified through his imitators, it is not very often that the legend is sustained in a solid work.
But with Caicedo the following happens: one hears him talked about and perhaps one reads him to refute the enthusiasm of the media. But what the reader finds is an expressively powerful, stylistically radical work of a beauty that is difficult to describe. The paradigmatic case of the Caicedo-esque universe is “Liveforever!”
Let’s talk about the work before we talk about his life: Liveforever (original title: ¡Que viva la música!) stems from a simple anecdote. A bourgeois girl from Cali with a special sensibility for translating her body and her words in hot rumba chords, sex and rock n’ roll.
What could be just another story of initiation ends up becoming a brief symphony made from cut-ups and remixes of salsa lyrics, black magic prayers, overflowing dialog and descriptions of the pharmacopoeia that circulates in the form of marijuana, LSD, magic mushrooms and cocaine, associated with the world of parties and nightlife.
According to Chilean writer Alberto Fuguet, “Caicedo is the missing link of the boom. And the number one enemy of Macondo”, the epitome of the under developed city of Latin American magical realism, and for which Caicedo has been elevated to a kind of literary alternative to García Márquez.
Let’s briefly look at his life: Andrés Caicedo was a young writer, film critic and theater director living in Cali and very active on the local cultural scene, supported financially by mother and his articles on cinema that he published in various media. He maintained that it was absurd to live beyond the age of 25 and, after receiving the first copy of Liveforever! he decided to take a fatal dose of barbiturates.
The force of gravity of this anecdote has served to awaken international interest as well as led to magnificent translations of Liveforever!, by Frank Wynne into English and Bernard Cohen into French.
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