Drenched 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.