I've read and enjoyed many of Marquez's books, and would easily rate him as one of the best living writers. But if you want a place to start with Marquez, don't start here.
The Autumn of the Patriarch is an experiment in form. Here Marquez eschews the use of paragraphs (or, more accurately, each chapter consists of one paragraph which can last for aroud 30 pages), and can go for pages without a full stop.
What's more, the narrator seems to change even within the same sentence, moving from "I" to "he" to "we", while the information presented (you guess) comes from a soldier, a lover, a mother, the patriarch himself.
The result of these techniques is that as a reader, you relax into the book, worry less about what is being said and who is saying it, and instead let the imagery wash over you, resulting in an almost impressionistic experience of a life, rather than a story as such.
But there lies the weakness. There really isn't much of a story here, no beginning, middle and end. There are the usual fantastic elements of a Marquez novel - miracles and disasters included - but little sense to it all. That may be the very point, and in that it is successful, but as a reading experience this just isn't as enjoyable as his other books, and as a stylistic technique Jose Saramago does it better.
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