Friday, September 18, 2020

Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 I’ve enjoyed the five books I’ve read by Garcia Marquez before, most especially 100 Years of Solitude, which is a masterpiece, and Autumn of the Patriarch, which I’m pretty sure I’ll think is also a masterpiece upon rereading it. I picked this up a while back at a library sale when I was gathering more of his books to read. I thought it was a novella, but it’s a narrative recreation of actual events in the 1950s that Garcia Marquez ghostwrote with the titular sailor. In the prologue, Garcia Marquez paints a picture of the sailor as potentially unreliable in the details and a hog for the publicity he got for surviving his ordeal. But, incontrovertably, he did survive that ordeal. To quote the book, “"Some people tell me this story is a fantasy. And I ask them: If it is, then what did I do during my ten days at sea?"

And Garcia Marquez tells that story with his characteristic style and aplomb. It was initially published serially, and I think that would have been an incredible way to experience the story. The sailor was swept off the deck of a Destroyer (along with some illicit cargo that caused quite a bit of controversy when the first chapters came out). Each day gets a chapter and, despite previous knowledge of the outcome the chapters end on cliffhangers. The sailor goes through a grueling ordeal and Garcia Marquez makes the most of that story. It’s not Moby Dick, but is on par with Old Man and the Sea.

Highly Recommended

Owned But Previously Unread 2020 74/75

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