“Like your character Daniel Quinn, you’ve met Castro. What’s it like, talking with Fidel?
Well, it’s absolutely like nothing else. He showed up the first day I was in Cuba, in 1987. I was in the house of [Gabriel] García Márquez. It was after lunch, I was sitting in the rocking chair, and Gabriel—Gabo—said to me, “Would you mind moving to another chair? The Comandante is coming and he likes the rocker.” Fidel came in, in his field jacket and his cap. He was very bulky in the chest and was probably wearing a bulletproof vest.
He stuck around for about three and a half hours. We talked about literature, movies. I was about to go into production for Ironweed. He was very genial and he arranged all of my itinerary. He arranged for me to go to Santiago and then up to Holguin, to fly over to the Isle of Pines, where he had been in prison.
We also talked about making Scotch, because he had some Czechoslovakian hops and he had sent some people to Scotland to find out how to make Scotch. He made some and I promptly got a bottle and drank some.
Was it any good?
It was a very nice beverage, but it wasn’t Scotch.”
From my interview with William Kennedy for The Paris Review. I hope he’s ok, he was great buddies with Gabo.