Fat Books & Thin Women

Story Sundays: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

Story Sundays is a weekly feature at Fat Books & Thin Women. Always short stories, always ones available online for free.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” captures all those things I love most about his writing: the matter-of-fact way the unbelievable inserts itself into average lives, the off-kilter humor that presents itself so casually it is nearly always a surprise, his descriptions so full that I can nearly smell the stench of the chicken coop in this story.

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” opens with Pelayo finding an old man with enormous wings in his courtyard. He and his wife put the man in their chicken coop, and while they and their neighbors are trying to learn what this man is, they charge admission to see the “angel.” His attraction is eventually crushed by that of a woman turned into a spider, the “consolation miracles” he is credited with proving an insufficient attraction:

…the few miracles attributed to the angel showed a certain mental disorder, like the blind man who didn’t recover his sight but grew three new teeth, or the paralytic who didn’t get to walk but almost won the lottery, and the leper whose sores sprouted sunflowers.

Pelayo’s family is by then rich enough to build a new home. Marquez, as ever, doesn’t direct the reader’s imagination but leaves the story to grow after its finish on the page.

Read “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

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1 Comment

Have enjoyed discovering your blog via The Reading Ape. I admit that I haven’t had the best luck with Marquez. I first tried 100 Years of Solitude as an undergrad, and I don’t think I could appreciate it. I have read this story and LOVED it, so I’m game for more. Was glad to see this one pop up because I also enjoy teaching it. :)

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