No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories

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Overview

Written with compassionate realism and wit, the stories in this mesmerizing collection depict the disparities of town and village life in South America, of the frightfully poor and outrageously rich, of memories and illusions, and of lost opportunities and present joys.
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Overview

Written with compassionate realism and wit, the stories in this mesmerizing collection depict the disparities of town and village life in South America, of the frightfully poor and outrageously rich, of memories and illusions, and of lost opportunities and present joys.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060114176
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1968

Meet the Author

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927. His many books include The Autumn of the Patriarch; No One Writes to the Colonel; Love in the Time of Cholera; a memoir, Living to Tell the Tale; and, most recently, a novel, Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Gabriel García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Biography

Gabriel García Márquez is the product of his family and his nation. Born in the small coastal town of Aracataca in northern Colombia, he was raised by his maternal grandparents. As a child, he was mesmerized by stories spun by his grandmother and her sisters -- a rich gumbo of superstitions, folk tales, and ghost stories that fired his youthful imagination. And from his grandfather, a colonel in Colombia's devastating Civil War, he learned about his country's political struggles. This potent mix of Liberal politics, family lore, and regional mythology formed the framework for his magical realist novels.

When his grandfather died, García Márquez was sent to Sucre to live (for the first time) with his parents. He attended university in Bogotá, where he studied law in accordance with his parents' wishes. It was here that he first read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and discovered a literature he understood intuitively -- one with nontraditional plots and structures, just like the stories he had known all his life. His studies were interrupted when the university was closed, and he moved back north, intending to pursue both writing and law; but before long, he quit school to pursue a career in journalism.

In 1954 his newspaper sent García Márquez on assignment to Italy, marking the start of a lifelong self-imposed exile from the horrors of Colombian politics that took him to Barcelona, Paris, New York, and Mexico. Influenced by American novelist William Faulkner, creator of the fictionalized Yoknapatawpha County, and by the powerful intergenerational tragedies of the Greek dramatist Sophocles, García Márquez began writing fiction, honing a signature blend of fantasy and reality that culminated in the 1967 masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. This sweeping epic became an instant classic and set the stage for more bestselling novels, including Love in the Time of Cholera, Love and Other Demons, and Memories of My Melancholy Whores. In addition, he has completed the first volume of a shelf-bending memoir, and his journalism and nonfiction essays have been collected into several anthologies.

In 1982, García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his acceptance speech, he called for a "sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth." Few writers have pursued that utopia with more passion and vigor than this towering 20th-century novelist.

Good To Know

Gabriel José García Márquez' affectionate nickname is Gabo.

García Márquez' first two novellas were completed long before their actual release dates, but might not have been published if it weren't for his friends, who found the manuscripts in a desk drawer and a suitcase, and sent them in for publication.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Gabriel José García Márquez
    2. Hometown:
      Mexico City, Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 6, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      Aracataca, Colombia
    1. Education:
      Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1947-48, and Universidad de Cartagena, 1948-49

Table of Contents

No one writes to the colonel 3
Tuesday siesta 65
One of these days 73
There are no thieves in this town 77
Balthazar's marvelous afternoon 106
Montiel's widow 115
One day after Saturday 122
Artificial roses 146
Big Mama's funeral 153
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First Chapter

No One Writes to the Colonel
and Other Stories

Chapter One

The Colonel took the top off the coffee can and saw that there was only one little spoonful left. He removed the pot from the fire, poured half the water onto the earthen floor, and scraped the inside of the can with a knife until the last scrapings of the ground coffee, mixed with bits of rust, fell into the pot.

While he was waiting for it to boil, sitting next to the stone fireplace with an attitude of confident and innocent expectation, the colonel experienced the feeling that fungus and poisonous lilies were taking root in his gut. It was October. A difficult morning to get through, even for a man like himself, who had survived so many mornings like this one. For nearly sixty years -- since the end of the last civil war -- the colonel had done nothing else but wait. October was one of the few things which arrived.

His wife raised the mosquito netting when she saw him come into the bedroom with the coffee. The night before she had suffered an asthma attack, and now she was in a drowsy state. But she sat up to take the cup.

"And you?" she said.

"I've had mine," the colonel lied. "There was still a big spoonful left."

The bells began ringing at that moment. The colonel had forgotten the funeral. While his wife was drinking her coffee, he unhooked the hammock at one end, and rolled it up on the other, behind the door. The woman thought about the dead man.

"He was born in 1922," she said. "Exactly a month after our son. April 7th."

She continued sipping her coffee in the pauses of her gravelly breathing. She was scarcely more than a bit of white on an arched, rigid spine. Her disturbed breathing made her put her questions as assertions. When she finished her coffee, she was still thinking about the dead man.

"It must be horrible to be buried in October," she said. But her husband paid no attention. He opened the window. October had moved in on the patio. Contemplating the vegetation, which was bursting out in intense greens, and the tiny mounds the worms made in the mud, the colonel felt the sinister month again in his intestines.

"I'm wet through to the bones," he said.

"It's winter," the woman replied. "Since it began raining I've been telling you to sleep with your socks on."

"I've been sleeping with them for a week."

It rained gently but ceaselessly. The colonel would have preferred to wrap himself in a wool blanket and get back into the hammock. But the insistence of the cracked bells reminded him about the funeral. "It's October," he whispered, and walked toward the center of the room. Only then did he remember the rooster tied to the leg of the bed. It was a fighting cock.

After taking the cup into the kitchen, he wound the pendulum clock in its carved wooden case in the living room. Unlike the bedroom, which was too narrow for an asthmatic's breathing, the living room was large, with four sturdy rockers around a little table with a cover and a plaster cat. On the wall opposite the clock, there was a picture of a woman dressed in tulle, surrounded by cupids in a boat laden with roses.

It was seven-twenty when he finished winding the clock. Then he took the rooster into the kitchen, tied it to a leg of the stove, changed the water in the can, and put a handful of corn next to it ...

No One Writes to the Colonel
and Other Stories
. Copyright © by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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