When I was in college, looking to become a technical writer, there was a joke making the rounds: "What's the difference between a pizza and a writer? A pizza feeds a family of four." On the bright side, if you're an aging writer in Argentina, you now at least have your pension guaranteed.
The city of Buenos Aires now gives pensions to published writers in a program that attempts to strengthen the "vertebral column of society," as drafters of the law described their goal. Since its enactment recently, more than 80 writers have been awarded pensions, which can reach almost $900 a month, supplementing often meager retirement income.
"The program is magnificent, delivering some dignity to those of us who have toiled our entire life for literature," said Alberto Laiseca, 71, one of the recipients, who has written more than a dozen books of horror fiction, including "The Garden of Talking Machines" and "The Adventures of Professor Eusebio Filigranati."
The pensions reflect how Argentina has sought to bolster what is already one of the strongest literary traditions in the Spanish-speaking world; Borges, the acclaimed short-story writer and poet, easily comes to mind, but Argentina also boasts classics like "Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism," a 19th century cornerstone of Latin American literature by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, who went on to become Argentina's president.
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