Sunday, May 4, 2008

No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


book 6 of 6 for the novella challenge
book 6 of 9 for the orbis terrarum challenge

The colonel fought in the Columbia Thousand Days War - he's 75 years old and has never been compensated for his efforts. He lives with his asthmatic and frustrated wife and a fighting rooster that belonged to his son. The story is an interesting portrayal of Mexican life - the very poor and the very rich and the political struggles. It's hard to imagine a life that is so truly hand to mouth that each day you are struggling to find money for the next meal, while people around you have rolls of money.

Waiting. That's what this novella was about, to me. Waiting for your pension check to arrive. Waiting for there to be some food to eat. Waiting for the cockfight so you can finally pay off your creditors and have some money. Waiting and never really having anything ever come to fruition. The colonel and his wife have opposite feelings about this life of waiting - while the colonel is content and hopeful, his wife is at the end of her rope:
"You can't eat hope," the woman said.
"You can't eat it, but it sustains you," the colonel replied.

We never learn the colonel and wife's names, and the ending is incredibly unresolved and abrupt, but Marquez's writing is as lovely as ever (sadly, without any of that magical realism that I so enjoy) and it was an interesting read.

3 comments:

bethany said...

hey! I love Marquez...some of his stuff much more than others. I enjoyed this one though, but yes the magical realism was lacking. I read it a while back, so I don;t remember a ton, just that I enjoyed it and would recommend it. Have you read One Hundred Years of Solitude of Love in the Time of Cholera? Those are two that I want to read soon.

Corinne said...

bethany - I really enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude. LOVED it, actually.

Stewart said...

I don't think it's important to ever learn the colonel or his wife's name as a) it makes the story feel more mythical; and b) by being anonymous they become cyphers for all the people suffering a similar fate.

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