1 April

A Book I’ve Beem Looking For For A Very Long Time: “A Very Old Man WIth Enormous Wings,” By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

by Jon Katz

I’ve been looking for this book for a long time. It was one of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s early works, a short story of just a few pages, but it said so much about Marquez and his writing that I never gave up on wanting to read it. It’s been a few decades since I looked for it and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I forgot about looking for it, but I never stopped thinking about it.

It was the only one of his works I hadn’t read, which left a hole in me. To me, Marquez is more than a writer; he is a spirit of a kind.

The story was worth the wait. I’ll finish it tonight. It’s pure Marquez, a brilliant blend of fantasy, love, and feeling, it foretells things to come. I tracked down a seller a month ago and got the book a few days ago. It’s not a book but a worn paper pamphlet published by Penguin Books in the 1950s. I found it offered for sale on Amazon, the last place I would have thought to look, from a book dealer on the other side of the country.

It is everything I imagined and more. Here is how it begins:

On the third day of rain, they had killed so many crabs inside the house that Pelayo had to cross his drenched courtyard and throw them into the sea because the newborn child had a temperature all night, and they thought it was due to the stench. The world had been sad since Tuesday. 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. The light was so weak at noon that when Pelayo was coming back to the hose after throwing away the crabs, it was hard for him to see what it was that was moving and groaning in the rear of the courtyard. He had to go very close to see that it was an old man, lying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn’t get up, impeded by his enormous wings.

How can anyone not read a book that begins like that? I will sit down with a glass of scotch and read the rest of it tonight.



  1. I love the section where a long list of villagers have disparate opinions and complete sureness about just exactly what the heck he is and how to treat him. There is so much packed into that very short story!

  2. Ok Jon! Now I’ve ordered the book from the library. Well, I hope it’s the book, it’s a book with selected short stories, so we shall see! The opening lines of a book either make it or break it for me. That’s an opening sonnet! I am reading “Until August” now, and it’s lovely.

  3. This book sounds fascinating, it makes me want to read it as well. I will have to look around for it.
    Thanks for the preview.
    Your flowers are Amazing!!! Talk about Light and Beauty. You certainly captured that. Thank you for sharing.
    A daily Bud picture would be great! I know I always ask you for that! haha
    Take care and enjoy your book,

    1. Thanks for the message, Jan; I can’t promise daily photos of anything; the blog doesn’t work that way, but Bud will get his time, and I appreciate your message. Thanks for the flower compliments. I love doing them.

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