Those who were
lucky enough to witness the event knew they had seen magic. The match was good
enough, in fact, to write a book about, and Vilas comes well-armed for that
task as well. Jonathan Segal, an editor at Simon & Schuster who is working
on a book with Vilas, says, "Guillermo has a great sense of the absurdity
of things. In time he could become a full-fledged writer."
"To write is very special. I think I started when I was alone in the fields
and the trees. I had so much time then. I am lucky now. I don't have to worry
about selling books. I can write what I feel. I can write for myself."
writing in secondary school but a teacher discouraged his efforts by throwing
away his work. When Vilas went out on the tour, he kept a diary. He scribbled
on napkins, programs, the back of his hand. An idea would come and Vilas would
grab onto it and write it down. He says he had written three books before he
published Ciento Veinticinco (125), a 1975 paperback of prose and poetry
dealing with man's loneliness and the emptiness of life.
Vilas put out 125
entirely on his own. He wrote it, designed the cover and paid the printer. The
book is "the fruit of my moments of greatest anguish," he says, but he
will not reveal the meaning of the title. There are chapter headings such as
Ilusiones, Nostalgia, Impotencia. The book is ironic, sarcastic, funny and sad,
but it was bombed by the critics. When asked what he thought of 125, Jorge Luis
Borges, Argentina's first man of letters, who is now 78 and blind, said,
"Just imagine me playing tennis."
undeterred. In conversation he is obsessed with cosmic subjects—fear, age,
death. His screenplay, which he labored over in longhand all last summer, is
entitled The Deciding Years. It is about a suicidal man who is talked out of
committing suicide. Two songs he wrote with his friend Spinetta are called
Angels, Angels and Children of the Bells, but Spinetta says he had to convince
Vilas to make the lyrics in Children of the Bells happy, not sad.
something nice happens to me, I live it," says Vilas. "When something
sad happens, I write it. I cannot write when contented. Stupid things come out.
But time passes and I get depressed. When I am traveling, I am unhappy. I am
thinking about death a lot. In my screenplay, everybody dies."
When Vilas was
18, a friend committed suicide. A few years ago he met a girl who wore a
container of poison on a chain around her neck. In 1976 after Wimbledon, Vilas
went into analysis to explore the feelings and experiences that always seemed
to surface in his writing.
"Is it me in
my screenplay?" he repeats a question. "It doesn't have to be me, but
it can be me. I change and find different things in people, including
In 125, in his
chapter on illusions. Vilas relates the story of a little boy who digs a hole
in the sand and pours buckets of water into the hole. The boy asks his father
for some ice cream, and the father says the boy can have the ice cream as soon
as the hole is filled with water.
After he finished
writing Ilusiones, Vilas says he was reminded of his father and himself on the
beach at Mar del Plata. He says he laughed, remembering. Then he cried. Vilas
says in that moment he realized he had grown up There were no illusions