... intimate, endearing ... García’s notes, acutely observational, are simultaneously infused with love, respect and the pain of loss ... García frets about crossing lines that might leave his parents helplessly exposed. Still, from his dying father’s bedside in Mexico City to his last moment with his mother (shared digitally, as COVID-19 prevented him from traveling), García is a guardian of their dignity ... Yet this memoir’s details are indeed intimate ... Fittingly, García begins each chapter with an excerpt from one of his father’s works, and it’s this connection between life and art that holds this intense memoir together.
... poignant ... Garcia, a television and film director, provides an intimate portrait of his father as he has never been portrayed: forgetful, frustrated, despondent. García Márquez’s despair is agonizing to witness ... Garcia’s account is honest — perhaps to a fault, given the strict division his parents imposed between their public and private lives ... is in large part carried by anecdotes about García Márquez’s life, but it is most telling when Garcia is prompted to reflect on his own, and reckon with his insecurities. Over the course of writing the memoir, he becomes aware that the wall his parents constructed around their private lives also extended, in part, to him.
Don’t expect a tell-all confessional that breaks with every family principle of discretion. Garcia told his father’s biographer that he imagined their tight-knit clan as 'a wheel with four spokes.' Charming and tender but elusive, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes proves that wheel remains something of a closed circle ... If his son’s fragmentary portrait of Gabo himself breaks little new ground, Mercedes does emerge at intervals from behind the mask of brisk, steely competence you find in other accounts ... strikes its note of sadness not thanks to any deathbed dramatics—Gabo passes quietly and calmly. Rather, Mr. Garcia’s matter-of-fact scrutiny of the hard work of dying allows the weight of loss to accumulate almost unseen until it drops like a boulder on survivors ... moves and touches when it tiptoes gently from public into private life to show us the familiar closing of this unique partnership. As for the secret life, that resides elsewhere—secure in his father’s incomparable art.