Book Club newsletter: A filmmaker’s farewell to his beloved parents

A black-and-white photo of Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha in the late 1960s, seated at a table with coffee cups.
Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha in the late 1960s, in a photo from “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes” by Rodrigo Garcia.
(Garcia Marquez Family Archive)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

Rodrigo Garcia joined the book club Thursday night. He talked about writing screenplays, helping his Nobel Prize-winning father destroy imperfect drafts and why he decided to write his own book chronicling the deaths of his parents, Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha.

A reader asked what he missed most about his parents.

“I just miss talking to them,” Garcia said. “I’d love to be sitting here with my mom saying, ‘What do you think? I wrote about your death. What do you think about this thing at the Los Angeles Times Book Club?’ And she’d have a hoot, saying, ‘You’re such a gossip. You spilled the beans, but you did well.’”

If you missed Garcia’s conversation with Times editor Steve Padilla about “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes,” you’ll want to watch it here.


P.S. Be sure to stay until the end, when Garcia talks about his own book club.

Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia and editor Steve Padilla discuss"A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes."
Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia joined the L.A. Times Book Club on July 29th, 2021in conversation with editor Steve Padilla to share the stories behind “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes,” a memoir about his father, Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and mother, Mercedes Barcha.
(Los Angeles Times)

Filmmaker’s favorites

Rodrigo Garcia shares some of his recent reads, movies and music and how he survived the past year.

Last book that kept me up at night: “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf.

Book I most enjoy rereading:El Aleph” by Jorge Luis Borges. [Garcia offered more book suggestions throughout book club night.]

My secret for pushing through writer’s block: I thankfully don’t suffer from writer’s block. I do struggle with the writing process itself, like everyone, but ideas that excite me are not a problem.

TV shows that got me through the pandemic:I Know This Much Is True,” “Tiger King,” “The Good Lord Bird.”

Best movie I’ve seen lately:Winter Sleep,” directed by Nuri Ceylan.

Favorite music right now: Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Kacey Musgraves and other pop heartbreak queens.

Next trip or adventure: To Mexico City.

Something that might surprise people: I suffer from terrible social anxiety.

Something I discovered about myself this past year: I am able to spend a lot of time at home.

Next project: The greatest movie ever made, by which I mean, my next movie. Truffaut used to say that we start a project thinking it will be a masterpiece, and eventually we are simply relieved it’s not a disaster. This denial is essential not just to make movies but also to simply get out of bed in the morning.

A black-and-white photo of Rodrigo Garcia next to the cover of his book "A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes."
(Rodrigo Garcia; HarperVia)

We Can Teach You That

How to build a career in Hollywood. On Aug. 10 reporters Anousha Sakoui and Wendy Lee will discuss the ongoing Times series on Hollywood careers, current hot jobs in the industry, and how aspiring candidates can get a foot in the door. Sakoui and Lee will be joined by guest Bree Frank, vice president of physical production for unscripted TV at Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon‘s media company. The webinar starts at 6 p.m. Sign up on Eventbrite.

What to know before applying to college this year. Education reporter Teresa Watanabe leads this Aug. 26 webinar for students and parents navigating the college landscape. The discussion will include updates on California college and university admissions, key planning dates for the 2021-22 school year and what’s changed as campuses in California and nationwide reopen this fall. The event starts at 6 p.m. Sign up on Eventbrite.

Keep reading

California gold. The Commonwealth Club has named the winners of the 90th annual California Book Awards. Gold medalists include “A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth” by Daniel Mason; “How Much of These Hills Is Gold” by C Pam Zhang; “South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War” by Alice L. Baumgartner; and “Quiet Orient Riot” by Nathalie Khankan. Browse the complete list.

Fire and (no) rain. As another California fire season rages, these new releases offer disaster primers and stories from the frontlines.

On love, power and language: L.A. author Steph Cha talks with Katie Kitamura about “Intimacies,” a new suspense novel (and Barack Obama 2021 summer reading pick) about a narrator who ditches life in New York to work as an interpreter at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.


“They say if you fly high enough you will get your wings.” Author and former Times Books editor David L. Ulin has been tweeting about poet Wanda Coleman. His favorite? “There are so many poems of hers I love,” he says. “But maybe ‘Angel Baby Blues,’ which I included in ‘Writing Los Angeles.’ It’s both ode and lament for Los Angeles, and works like a kind of map of the city in words. Beautiful and vivid and steeped in place, like so much of her work.” Who are your favorite California poets? Share your must-read poems in an email to

Rising career cut short. California writer Anthony Veasna So died in December at 28, just months before the release of “Afterparties.” But his family and fans are making a memorable debut for his short-story collection, out in August. “People like to say that the best advice they can give to writers is to read a lot,” So said in a Soft Punk interview published after his death. “And that’s true, of course. But you shouldn’t just read literature. You should read life. Read movies, and art, and people. Read everything around you, very critically. Then build your method out of that process.”

A headshot of Billie Jean King next to her memoir, "All In: An Autobiography."
(Roger Erickson | Knopf)

What’s next

Tennis champion Billie Jean King brings her memoir, “All In,” to the L.A. Times Book Club on Aug. 24.

King grew up in Long Beach and learned to play tennis in public parks. She takes readers inside her groundbreaking career: Six years as the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player. Twenty Wimbledon championships. Beating Bobby Riggs on live TV in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes.” Her memoir is set against the backdrop of the women’s movement, the civil rights movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights.

The virtual book book club will be streaming on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook starting at 6 p.m. PT on Aug. 24. King will be in conversation with Times Executive Sports Editor Christian Stone. A limited number of autographed copies of “All In” with a Los Angeles Times Book Club tote will be available for book club readers. Get tickets on Eventbrite.