By Gabriel García Márquez
January 1, 1955 • 146 pages
A “leaf storm” blows into Macando, bringing with it the banana company, the dregs and decay of other towns, and economic prosperity followed by economic doom when the storm departs. In addition to the arrival of amusement parlors, hospitals and warehouses, is that of a doctor, who serves as the central focus of the novella’s three main perspectives.
Leaf Storm, Márquez’s first novella, begins in media res with the funeral of a doctor who dies by suicide. It’s clear early on that this man is despised by society, and through the flashbacks and interior monologues of the colonel, his daughter, and his grandson, we learn more about the doctor’s inextricable ties to the family and to the town that scorns him. While I had to push past the first few pages of this story, it pulled me in when I learned more about the colonel’s complex relationship with the doctor and the complexity of his emotions and realtionships.
This novella is quintessentially Márquez with themes of solitude, death, war, and an unapologetic critique of society layered throughout the narrative; and a little of each of these themes can be found in the other short stories in this collection. This book is a compilation of otherwise ordinary stories brought to life through the skills of a master story-teller whose unique way of viewing the world separates him from so many others.
“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” is the story of a man who washes up on shore, and due to bloat becomes unrecognizable… and extremely handsome (and well endowed, to the delight of the women). This story was hilarious.
“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is the story of a winged man who shakes up the village he lands in with the mystery of his origins and his silence.
“Blacaman the Good, Vendor of Miracles” is about a charlatan playing at a wizard who “trains” (physically and mentally abuses) an apprentice with “an idiot face” who, in a twist of fates, turns out to be a real man of magic.
“The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship” is a ONE sentence story, spanning 6 pages and it tells of a man who periodically sees a ghost ship no one else can see but him.
“Monologue of Isabel Watching it Rain in Macando” follows the daughter of the colonel in Leaf Storm who’s pregnant and left to watch rain endlessly fall on the town.
Nearly each story has elements of magic realism and an underlying and unbeatable wit that had me laughing out loud at some parts. It’s not the fastest read and can be dense in certain areas, but it’s rich with enchanting language and vibrancy. Anyone else feel like they’re in a hacienda during siesta when reading Márquez? His writing lulls me without ever putting me to sleep.
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