Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Tale for Children


"Sea and sky were a single ash-gray thing and the sands of the beach, which on March nights glimmered like powdered light, had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish."
-Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"

Today, I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings."

What an incredible story. Marquez calls it "A Tale For Children," and though a child would never fully grasp the story, but an adult (except for Marquez) would never actually even consider a man with wings, an angel, falling to earth.

The story conveys that childish sense of wonder, something magical, but it also undermines it with a cynicism in the reaction that people have to the old man. The man himself, perhaps an angel, in not described in an "angelic" way, but rather he is decrepit, his wings flea-ridden, his body old and worn. I'm not sure what to call this story: fantasy realism, maybe?

Though the locals reaction to the angel is depressing, when the old man finally takes flight there is somehow a sense of resolve, but not overly so. Like a good haiku, the story makes a point but does not leave us with a "bowtie" ending. It's like a breeze, making one shudder but appreciative of the fresh air.

6 Comments:

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Dorky Dad said...

I'd probably creep out if I suddenly ran into an old man with enormous wings. Then I'd ask him if he has an enormous cup of dipping sauce.

I can't believe I just said that. I've never read that story, but I do enjoy stories that leave something to the imagination. I always find that more thought provoking.

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I've always been a big fan of Marquez. "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "One Hundred Years of Solitude" are chocked full of surrealism. The short story you mention, is my all time favorite of his. What better way to describe an angel? I also like the descriptions used when they put him in a cage. It's definitely "NOT" a tale for children, or at least that's my opinion.

 
At 5:35 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

"Love in the Time of Cholera" is one of my fav books. I love the way he writes its soo evocative.

 
At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Aunt Kristi said...

I had a friend years ago (sadly, I've lost touch with her) whose mother AND grandmother had both been lovers of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She (my friend) had a GGM shrine in her living room. He's one of my favorite writers. I could read One Hundred Years of Solitude again and again.

 
At 6:51 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

A man with giant wings... can't say I've seen any but if I did I'd probably run and hide.

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

García Márquez -- beautiful!

 

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