A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 24 – A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day twenty four – A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Read it online here:

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

Magical Realism is a tricky and mysterious thing. When done badly it is horrific. When done well, it is a thing of wonder. And, of course, nobody does it better than Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I remember reading A Hundred Years of Solitude for the first time. It is a massive tome – but I was so enthralled at the text I never wanted it to end.

Reading magical realism in a short story is different than reading it in a long novel. If you spend enough time in that colorful world you get used to it and wonder why every day isn’t like that. But in a short story it comes as a shock – like gazing through a peephole into another universe.

Though you never find out who the very old man is or why he has those enormous wings (surely he is an angel – but what a decrepit one) and you never understand his speech – you feel for the poor wretch. Dragged from the mud and exhibited in a chicken coop until the owners become rich from the admission (and finally outshown by a spider woman) he still exhibits patience and understanding. It isn’t until his duty is done that he….

Well, read it and find out.

The curious came from far away. A traveling carnival arrived with a flying acrobat who buzzed over the crowd several times, but no one paid any attention to him because his wings were not those of an angel but, rather, those of a sidereal bat. The most unfortunate invalids on earth came in search of health: a poor woman who since childhood has been counting her heartbeats and had run out of numbers; a Portuguese man who couldn’t sleep because the noise of the stars disturbed him; a sleepwalker who got up at night to undo the things he had done while awake; and many others with less serious ailments. In the midst of that shipwreck disorder that made the earth tremble, Pelayo and Elisenda were happy with fatigue, for in less than a week they had crammed their rooms with money and the line of pilgrims waiting their turn to enter still reached beyond the horizon.

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