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Leaf Storm and Other Stories – Gabriel García Márquez

06 Aug

leafyDrenched by rain, the town has been decaying ever since the banana company left. Its people are sullen and bitter, so when the doctor – a foreigner who ended up the most hated man in town – dies, there is no one to mourn him. But also living in the town is the Colonel, who is bound to honour a promise made many years ago. The Colonel and his family must bury the doctor, despite the inclination of their fellow inhabitants that his corpse be forgotten and left to rot.

Márquez is a fantastic writer and I would urge all of you to pick up his works as soon as possible, in this short stories compilation, he shows both his playful and sombre sides and provides a nice mix of feelings for the reader.

Although without all those literary flourishes of his most memorable works there is still a great deal of charm and thought-provoking passages throughout these stories.  There is an atmosphere of the exotic and dramatic that soaks through the pores of this lovely little book.

The above synopsis is for the Leaf Storm, the largest story in this book and what a story!  Told through multiple narrators and starting in the middle, it is a kaleidoscope of different views, which delicately and patiently peel back the layers of this extremely immersive narrative.

Leaf Storm is set in Macondo an earthy and alive place, the setting for the complexly stratified One Hundred Years of Solitude, which will seem welcome to returning travellers who like me have lived there before.  As well as adding to the experience of the place for previous readers, it is equally welcoming to new readers as well as you don’t have to have any background to the snapshot of the town.

The interchange of characters’ perspective can be a little confusing to begin with but settles down to become a very effective way of getting a broad demographic of thought and perspective as seen through each point of view. The layering of each character’s experience and memories throughout had me changing opinions and assumptions as the story goes on, it’s always good to be kept on one’s toes.

The other stories in the book are a lot shorter ranging from as little as six pages to twelve pages and are a lot less sombre than the first story.  Márquez throws himself into inventive whimsy and has you believing in the stories.  No matter how farcical and magical they are a pure delight, grounded in real historical feeling settings with enough delightful enchantment to inspire wonderment.

Being so short, I find myself slightly hampered in talking about the shorter stories without giving away all their treasures so you will have to be satisfied with being enticed by the titles and conjure up your own ideas, they are in very particular order; The Handsomest Drowned man in the World, A Very old Man with enormous Wings, Blacáman the Good, Vendor of Miracles, The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship, Monologue of Isabel Watching It Rain in Macondo, Nabo.

Time and solitude are both themes that run through the narratives as well as death, which are recognisable in all of the author’s works and will have you feeling sometimes melancholy and other times amused. On the strength of the first story alone, this book is worth getting, the short(er) stories are an excellent bonus.  it’s a joy to read and magical realism is always at its finest when in the company of Márquez.

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35 Comments

Posted by on 06/08/2014 in Fiction

 

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35 responses to “Leaf Storm and Other Stories – Gabriel García Márquez

  1. Love, Life and Whatever

    06/08/2014 at 17:12

    Your review had created desired interest on me….he was a writer par excellence….the interplay of words…thank you for one good read suggestion

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    • Ste J

      06/08/2014 at 17:31

      He is such an amazing writer, I believe some of these stories were amongst his earliest but they are still a cut above a lot of other writers’ efforts.

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  2. Al

    06/08/2014 at 17:34

    As you know, I like Marquez, so this will definitely be one that I pick up. I like the way he starts in the middle and works back then forwards. Very clever. I have a few other books that I need to read before getting on to something like this.

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    • Ste J

      06/08/2014 at 17:43

      It is a good plot device and is a nice way to reveal information and change your thoughts about different characters as the pages go by. This, as all the rest of Márquez’s work is definitely worth the wait!

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      • Al

        06/08/2014 at 17:49

        How many pages does the book have?

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        • Ste J

          06/08/2014 at 17:53

          160 pages, it really is very short but there is so much content in there.

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  3. Letizia

    06/08/2014 at 18:02

    I had completely forgotten about this book! I need to track down a copy and read it again. Thanks for bringing it back into my life.

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    • Ste J

      06/08/2014 at 18:17

      I am good at prodding the memory cells, why I lost my brain surgeons license I will never know…stupid mix ups etc, etc.

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  4. shadowoperator

    06/08/2014 at 18:14

    How funny, that you and I both wrote on works of magical realism today! But I have a shaming story to tell about myself and “Leaf Storm.” I used to have a copy of it about twenty years ago, maybe twenty-five, and someone who was a good friend but who didn’t have much money stole it. She was fanatical about the South American writers, particularly Marquez. I knew she had the book, she knew I knew. I would have readily loaned it to her for a read, maybe even have given it to her willingly if I’d known ahead of time that it was so important to her. But in spite of the fact that I understood the situation, it left a bad taste in my mouth, because I’m weird, I guess, about my books. I haven’t seen her for years and years now, and it’s been a long time since we were friends. But in a very magical realistic sort of way, I’ve never read the book. I’ve never bought another copy of the book, or checked it out of a library to read. And it’s one of the things I’m disappointed in myself about, that I couldn’t do something better, more human about it, than ignore the book. Maybe since you think so highly of it, I will get around to reading it: I don’t want to continue to figure in my own imagination as a sort of book collector who neglects to read her own books and resents that other people take them!

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    • Ste J

      06/08/2014 at 18:29

      Books are important though and I can totally understand your feelings on having your book half inched. It’s the principal of it, you have a collection which you are proud of but you would happily share or sacrifice a book for a friend but to have it taken is just sad. I think a little resentment is good for the soul, makes you appreciate the books you have more, even if you are less willing to let them out of your site. I think you should get this and enjoy some Márquez that you haven’t yet discovered, that first time is always so much more with it than anything from the romance genre.

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  5. Tom Gething

    06/08/2014 at 19:15

    I read this in Spanish a long time ago. Strange, I only remember the main story, Leaf Storm, so maybe the others weren’t in the copy I read. Thanks for the review.

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    • Ste J

      06/08/2014 at 19:19

      It does seem to be published on its own in many versions, the book I got was an old version from a sadly defunct second hand shop…am I right in thinking that reading it in the original Spanish is much more superior read?

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      • Tom Gething

        06/08/2014 at 19:23

        I don’t know, since I haven’t read it in English. But like anything in its native language, I suspect so. If Gregory Rabassa or Edith Grossman translated your version, you can bet that it was pretty well done.

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        • Ste J

          06/08/2014 at 19:29

          I will have to go and find out now…I don’t recall off hand, I just know it wasn’t somebody called Dave. It would make sense that it is better in the original and is yet another encouragement to learn other languages.

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  6. gargoylebruce

    06/08/2014 at 23:30

    The synopsis sounds awesome, but when I saw it was by Marquez I paused…we’ve not had the best relationship so far. I think I was too young when I originally read his work so it was just confusing and weird. This sounds like a good re-entry point though.

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    • Ste J

      07/08/2014 at 15:18

      My first book of his was One Hundred Years of Solitude and that was a bit mad…this one is a good way to get yourself back into his writing style, once you get into the rhythm of the first story, you won’t find anything to challenging in the book…although conversely the author does challenge many things.

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  7. nancyrae4

    07/08/2014 at 02:12

    What a great review. You’ve inspired me to read Marquez. I don’t read many short stories, but then I’m probably just jealous because I can’t write a good one!

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    • Ste J

      07/08/2014 at 15:20

      Haha, I know what you mean! This book is a good springboard to his novels as well which are all great (as far as the nine books I’ve read go) and some are downright magnificent.

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  8. Alastair Savage

    07/08/2014 at 08:12

    Sounds great. If the stories are so short, I’ll try and read it in Spanish too. I can usually only manage Borges in Spanish because he also writes lots of very short stories, but you’ve inspired me here.

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    • Ste J

      07/08/2014 at 15:22

      I need to catch up with Borges, I purchased Christina a copy of his complete works and only started reading it a couple of days before I flew home so that is waiting for me still…It is a good idea to tackle the smaller stories in another language, I may join you in that endeavour at some point.

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  9. cricketmuse

    07/08/2014 at 13:25

    He is an AP required author because his writing is so thought provoking.

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    • Ste J

      07/08/2014 at 15:22

      His ideas and language are a heady mix, Mr M. should be required reading for everybody.

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  10. LuAnn

    08/08/2014 at 16:26

    I am waiting to get settled someplace that has a nice bookstore so I can indulge in his works. This certainly sounds like one to add to the list. Thanks!

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    • Ste J

      08/08/2014 at 16:46

      You will not be disappointed, this is a nice start and shows the depth of his work, if you can’t get this then Love in the Time of Cholera is great for an epic and perhaps Love and Other demons if you wish a shorter introduction to his novels. Good luck with the bookstore hunting!

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  11. Christina ~

    10/08/2014 at 06:09

    Marquez is pure genius….and your review, as always…utterly entices…without compromising the book itself. One of your many many talents as a reviewer and a writer as well! I am well anticipatious for this one, well…for all of his…but I am rationing them as per your example. This is seemingly perfect to get a quick Marquez fix! You always tempt me with each review and I love it…only one question remains….was the redolence of said book as divine as the words it contained? #wink

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    • Ste J

      10/08/2014 at 19:03

      I don’t do spoilers, that is why I leave the lottery be, my talents will have to remain in book reviews only haha. Rationing is good, I do like to have a few unread ones with me so I can read the backs of them without reading….it’s all a bit tantric! The scent was fantastic and well worth a couple of lungfuls of happiness.

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  12. angela

    11/08/2014 at 01:40

    Wonderful review…I am embarrassed to say that I have false started his main novel many times (I am a terrible fiction reader) but do love short stories, shall look for this one!

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    • Ste J

      11/08/2014 at 15:28

      This will ease you in and his writing is just so good, I do profess my shock at you failing to get into his longer works but there is always hope that you will and also I will demand credit as well, not a cash sum for this one but perhaps for the next author I can get you into!

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  13. thejerseygal®™

    18/08/2014 at 01:41

    Love in the Time of Cholera-my fav of his works.

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    • Ste J

      18/08/2014 at 16:27

      I think One Hundred Years just shaded it, that may be because that was my introduction to his works and I remember going to the pub to chat about it afterwards.

      Like

       

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