Top positive review
26 people found this helpful
A haunting, poetic example of Marquez' early writing.
on 1 October 2001
The book contains Marquez' first novella Leaf Storm, published in 1955, and six short stories. One of these, "Monologue of Isabel Watching it Rain in Macondo", was written the same year as Leaf Storm and can be largely considered as a post-script to it. These, with Nabo (1951, represent the author's earliest work, written while working as a journalist in Bogota.
The four other short stories, published in 1968 are stylistically different and illustrate the impetus thar Marquez, influenced by Borges and Kafka, gave to the phenomenon of Magical Realism. These, such as "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" (which interestingly first appeared in Americam Playboy) and "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings", both display a simplistic power in their story-telling which is combined with a mythical, Freudian imagery that enables Marquez to break down the confines of conventional subject matter.
However, in Leaf Storm itself, we encounter another foundation of Marquez' later development; the town of Macondo. We find it at the turn of the century in a state of social upheaval caused by the arrival of the banana companies. Against this background a mysterious doctor appears in the town and lodges with a colonel and his family whom he later scandalizes by making their servant pregnant; in addition he becomes a pariah, enraging the townspeople by his refusal to treat them.
Some years later the Doctor, now a recluse, hangs himself, leaving the Colonel, to the resentment of the local people, to take responsibility for his burial. It is at this point that the narrative begins; as the Colonel and his daughter cast their minds into the past to come to terms with the nature,not only of the Doctor's life and manner of death, but also with their own existence.
It is here therefore, that Macondo, which was to be the setting for the Nobel prize winning "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (1969), takes shape in Marquez' fertile imagination. It is as he describes, a place where "people are tormented by a prosperous past and the bitterness of an overwhelming and static present". In Leaf Storm the author not only presents us with a town of bricks and mortar, but also the mood of quiet despair that permeates it and, through the invocation of heat, dust, rain and shadows, a vivid sense of atmosphere. As a series of dream-like recollections and memories that join together seamlessly from character to character, it is an ethereal, poetic and truly significant work.