50 years after A Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garciá Márquez – The Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother and other Stories

Book cover -Penguin

For two days I read a collection of stories which give away an ephemeral feeling,all of them. To the rattle of the overhead fans, the familiarity of old books smell mingling with the rain soaked mud and rain drenched trees outside, in an aging library.

The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her heartless Grandmother must be my favourite short story here. Helplessness explained, cruelty not mocked, magical mystery of minds. This is the story that really brought me back to writing. A few words here, more ideas there sparked one after the the other. Magic realism at its finest what with diamonds in oranges, helpful love, dispassionate cycling photographers, concerned missionaries. What a white whale witch the grandmother is, sleep-talking her dreams and destinies and fables long occurred, long repeated.

The Sea of Lost Time is hallucinatory with its rose scented sea, dirt filled and insomniac earthworm and rabbit sex, ha!
Predictions of death for oneself, food from the sea alone and massive case of philanthropy, in a wayward lost alcove of a town come together to lace up a tale of Old John and his forgotten dreams after his wife’s death.

Death Constant beyond Love has one of the most powerful opening line in this book. An all powerful senator is on a political campaign tour when he meets the love of his life when he has only a little sand left in his bottle of time. She is the daughter of a man he has denied land to, and now he must else the chastity belt remains locked.

The Third Resignation is on the number of times a body must feel the terror of dying over and over again. The noticeable smell and the signs of outer death, even, can ot save him. No matter how many times he goes cycle, the inhuman fear of the unknown remains.

Sometimes odd but not as gross as The Other Side of Death what with its twin obsession. Gabo, why are you so enchanted by the mirror when you are shaving? What captures your thoughts so?

Eva is inside her cat. It’s a spoiler. The title. Eva craves an orange (oranges again Gabo?) And then the fear of un-existing again frightens her. We listen to her as she makes up her mind.

Gabo’s fascination with twins, is morbid perhaps, only here in Dialogue with the Mirror. The dead twin brother is an artist and stares back at the man not in the mirror, a mathematician, constantly calculating time and square roots almost obsessively. Even the remembrance of words feels good- like his soul is a dog wagging it’s tail.

The Three Sleepwalkers is strange. Perhaps they are sisters like the Gorgons, the eldest of whom was Medusa, and her slow series of degeneration.
Gabo probably has a book somewhere, a small vibrant red wallpaper cover designed book, files with descriptions of soledad; solitude.

I think Eyes of a Blue Dog is a story of two dream not-lovers in a kind of paradoxical sitiation. In real life, he can’t remember the words he tells her, she knows and writes them everywhere she goes, but doesn’t remember him.
Why must she undress for a dream conversation though? Because it’s his fantasy?

The Woman who came at Six o Clock. Questioning the character’s intentions is pointless and needless. As with all these stories, smile at the coquettish quality, marvel at the thick veil of sadness. The conversation in this story could only happen at a bar counter just when it is clean and dry, of course.

Someone has been Disarranging the roses has a ghost entity as the narrator, at a desperate pace watching the girl who takes care of her casket and her son’s casket since twenty years, but nevermore.

Three is a magic number, just as with the Three Sleepwalkers story, The Night of the Curlews has a disbelieved group of three men whose eyes are pecked out by Curlews. The imagery for blindness is rich as is Gabo’s intent on prying the secrets off Sleep.

I loved how each story is dated.
I had just read this article and could fix the pieces of the stories in his life’s time line.

Rabassa, the translator, must be thanked a million times over.



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