My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) 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 of 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).
And 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.
CG FEWSTON is an American novelist who is a member of AWP, a member of Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world.
CG FEWSTON has travelled across continents and visited such places as Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei and Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and Guilin and Shenzhen and Beijing in China. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
CG FEWSTON earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists, such as Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014).
Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments Literary–Arts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Tendril Literary Magazine, Prachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”
You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…
Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…
Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…
Praise for A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN:
“Fewston delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”
“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”
CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —
10 years to the day of the publication
of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)
“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary
is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,
as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.
Ending and beginning again,
like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,
like the four seasons.”
found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5