My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) by Gabriel García Márquez is an ambitious novel, especially for any skilled and intelligent reader. In the 229-page novel, consisting of six chapters, there are exactly six paragraphs (no joke!).
Each chapter is one paragraph running on for approximately thirty to forty pages, with absolutely no line breaks at any time. At times, on average, a sentence runs for over a page in length.
The novel has about one period per page, no quotation marks, commas galore, making this novel by Márquez one hell of a read (far more exerting than his previously published novel One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967). This novel is not for the timid who desire a simple, mindless read.
The story is primarily about citizens who tell a running narrative, often overlapping in points-of-view, about the General of the Universe, a murderous and afflicted dictator of an unnamed Caribbean nation. At one point he delivers a traitor on a silver platter to his high commanders at the dinner table and tells them to eat, and to enjoy. The General further believes that “the only document of identity for an overthrown president should be his death certificate” (p 15).
Another time he sends thousands of children, who were involved in a lottery scam that always chose the General as the winner, out to the sea to be drowned in order to hide his secret. The despotism becomes twisted and the General can no longer determine what is true and real and what has been imagined. He orders his men to create an eclipse for a lover, and it is done as he requested because he is so feared by all on earth.
“All the more pained,” the General reflects in one small section of a sentence, “as he deciphered more deeply the weave of the false truths with which they had diverted his attention for so many years in order to hide the brutal truth that my lifetime comrade was in the service of politicians of fortune whom for convenience sake he had taken from the darkest corners of the federalist war and had made them rich and had heaped fabulous privileges upon them… and they still wanted more, God damn it, they wanted the place of the elect of God that he had reserved for himself, they wanted to be me, motherfuckers” (p 102-103).
The novel can only go one place, and that is to the finale of the General’s “second” death, the first having been a double who died and all were convinced it was in fact the General until the General rose on the third day and restored order and executed those guilty of treason and for having desecrated the supposed General’s body.
And as you get to the final sentence (or at least the final section of the final sentence), you begin to understand the genius behind the author’s choice of extremely long sentences, as if the reader has been caught in an eternal whirlpool of no escape: “alien to the clamor of the frantic crowds who took to the streets singing hymns of joy at the jubilant news of his death and alien forevermore to the music of liberation and the rockets of jubilation and the bells of glory that announced to the world the good news that the uncountable time of eternity had come to an end” (p 229).
This is my seventh Gabriel García Márquez’s novel, and yes, I am a fan and will likely read most, if not all of his other works. Therefore, if you, dear reader, are a fan of Márquez, then I recommend this novel. Otherwise, stay far, far away if you are expecting one of those novels so often found in print these days and can be read with little to no real effort. For this novel, the reader of a dedicated nature is required to work, but the benefits are profound and extraordinary.
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”
“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”
“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”
“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…”
“Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.”
“There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”
“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”
“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”
“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”
“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”
GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction
FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)
“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”
“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.
“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.
In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.
The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.
TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.
Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.
Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis