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on December 20, 2003
I loved this novella and the short stories that were included in the volume.
"Leaf Storm" isn't a conventionally plotted novella. Instead, it's more of a dreamy and dreamlike character study of three people and their reactions to the suicide (or possible murder) of the town outcast and recluse. When the novella ends, we are left with many unanswered questions, but still, we feel fulfilled for we sense there are things about this suicide/murder that it's best simply not to know.
I have to disagree with opinions that Gregory Rabassa didn't do a good job with the translation. I think he did a superb job. He not only translated the story for us, he managed to capture the rain-soaked, steamy melancholy that is the essence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Rabassa is well-known as having been one of the world's premier translators and it's easy to see why.
I loved the two fantasy stories, "The Hansomest Drowned Man in the World" and "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings." They are filled with the brand of magical realism that only Gabo can write and are just wonderful. I also liked "Monologue of Isabel Watching it Rain in Macondo" and "Ghost Ship."
This book gives us a glimpse into the world of Macondo and it's a very seductive glimse indeed.
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on December 8, 2005
'Leaf Storm' is known as the first novella published by Gabriel García Márquez. And from this debut is possible to see how big he would become one day. This book tells a very simple story that acquires multiple levels as it is told.

After the death of an infamous doctor of Macondo his only friends, this friend's daughter and her son gather to the funerals. The dead man is known as the devil and everyone hates him. His death made the city very happy. As the story is unfolded, we learn why he's so hated and how come the threesome ended up there to mourn him.

Using multiple points of views, Gabo gives the three protagonists chances to speak to themselves and we can find out how dreadful is to each of one be there. The writer is able to switch the point of view, and also the language --after all, a little boy does not speak as an old man. This is one of the remarkable qualities of this wonderful novella.

This is the very first time that the imaginary place Macondo appears in Gabo's story and it became a seminal place of his stories --among them the masterpiece 'A Hundred years of solitude'.
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on November 23, 2012
What can I say?

There is a reason that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a master. He didn't just have a unique and powerful way of writing, he also had a unique and powerful way of seeing the world around him. I am also reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, A Life by Gerald Martin. It has been a fascinating journey, reading Leaf Story as I read about the early years of his life in Colombia and traveling in Europe, what used to be the U.S.S.R., the United States, and Cuba.

It was easy to give this book 5 stars. A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings may still be my favorite story, but the entire book got under my skin.

The brilliance is this: The leaf storm is the arrival of--for lack of a better term--industry to the small town of Macondo. The leaf trash are the elements of the population that the storm blows into town, leaving the residents already there feeling like outsiders.

This is presented in the prologue. What follows is so unique. It is not factual, it is like watercolor bleeding on a wet canvas. The stories sprawl into the psyches of the imagined citizens. We get their hearts and souls.

I've written about each of the stories on my blog [...] on the entries between October 18, 2012 and November, 19, 2012.

It is really unfortunate that this treasure has not become available for ereaders.
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on June 26, 2009
I bought this book to help my study on Spanish. I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but the original is still too hard for me. This translation work is quite acurate while maintaining the flavor of Garcia Marquez. It helps me greatly and speed up my understanding. However, In addition to be a study aid, the book also provides a great deal of enjoyable reading. I recomend it for a summer reading.
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... which was actually the initial prelude. I've read a number of the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, most notably, his classic One Hundred Years of Solitude (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) as well as Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club). I first read "Leaf Storm" a few decades ago, and decided it needed a re-read. Like William Faulkner, who found a seemingly inexhaustible source of material in that small postage-stamp size of earth that is Lafayette Co., Mississippi, which he fictionalized as Yoknapatapa Co., so too Marquez produced story after story based on his own town of Aracataca, Columbia, which he would fictionalize as Macondo. Both Faulkner and Marquez would win the Nobel Prize, separated by a bit more than four decades.

"Leaf Storm" was published twelve years before "One Hundred Years..." It is a novella which sets the stage for his later work. All the familiar elements are there: the town itself, of Macondo. Always in the background is the Civil War, which tore Columbia apart, dating from the 19th Century. The Civil War provides so much of the impetus for current actions. And there is the "magical realism" that is the hallmark of Marquez' style... those seemingly impossible events that just happen.

Marquez draws the reader in with the death of a doctor that the town hated. The search for the "why" carries the reader through the first half of the novella. As Marquez describes the town's feelings, in a style reminiscent of Faulkner : "...satisfied rather at seeing the longed-for hour come, wanting the situation to on and on until the twirling smell of the dead man would satisfy even the most hidden resentments." In fact, the authorities deliberately delay burying him... so that the town can smell the odor of his dead flesh. Now, that is hatred, in a classic sense. So, what did the doctor do to merit this? It is actually what he did NOT do: he refused to treat wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Hum. Proving that there are many disparate threads that seem to tie together, I had to reflect upon the various administrators of VA hospitals who denied medical care to veterans. As the priest in Marquez' story posits it: their burial should be conducted by the sanitation department.

In this early novella of Marquez, his narrative powers are quite apparent. He tells the story from three different points of view, which span three generations. There is Colonel Aureliano Buendia, who, as a point of honor, originally decided to shelter the doctor, and is determined to see that he has a proper burial, despite the town's feelings. The other two narrators are Buendia's daughter, Chabela, and her child. And always, there is how Marquez describes Macondo, and its founding: "Arriving there, mingled with the human leaf storm, dragged along by its impetuous force, came the dregs of warehouses, hospitals, amusement parlors, electric plants; the dregs made up of single women and men who tied their mules to hitching posts by the hotel, carrying their single piece of baggage, a wooden trunk or a bundle of clothing, and in a few months each had his own house, two mistresses, and the military title that was due him for having arrived late for the war."

The publisher of my copy, issued in 1979, was Picador. They tacked on six short stories, of varying quality, as it always seems, to fill out their offering. "The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship" is five pages long, but only one sentence. Take a deep breath. It is a stylistic precursor to The Autumn of the Patriarch. And I found the story "Blacaman the Good, Vendor of Miracles" a riff, between Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Thomas Pynchon.

I was going to originally rate it 4-stars, since I found the ending somewhat unsatisfactory, but upon further reflection, decided it was simply an excellent prelude for "100 years...", thus, 5-stars.
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on February 12, 2014
Cut to the Chase:
The stories that work in this novel are powerful and enthralling… the first line, spoken by a young boy, is “I’ve seen a corpse for the first time.” Each of the stories in this collection is dense, seeming to reach beyond the dramas of each character’s individual events and tragedies, but it is the title story which most diligently holds and mesmerizes us. Though the other stories in the collection are well-written and constructed, I have to admit that they didn’t pull me in the same way – many are fable-like: a man with wings, a vicious miracle-seller swindler whose child assistant becomes a true miracle-worker, an unidentified drowned man who seems to have such fantastical proportions that he eventually changes the way the villages think as well as how they construct and design their houses. The pacing also slows down after the title story, and while the passages are often quite poetic and beautiful, there is often very little action to push the story forward. The stories are still entertaining, just less involving, depending more on lyrical language than compelling or realistic characters.

Greater Detail:
“Leaf Storm” is short and covers only 30 minutes in the lives of three protagonists, a young boy, his mother, and his grandfather, as they each separately prepare for the funeral of the dead doctor. Through our changing narrators we learn about the history of the town – how the leaf storm brought a banana company which transformed Macondo, at least temporarily, into a thriving, prosperous town. We learn how the doctor, unnamed throughout the piece, first arrived to the colonel’s family and set up his practice, only to be forgotten when the banana company’s physicians replaced him. We’re told that the doctor locked himself into his room, receiving no patients and seeing no visitors for years afterwards – not even Meme, who worked as a servant within the colonel’s household and eventually became the doctor’s mistress. The stories unfold slowly and mysteriously – we start at the end, when the doctor is dead, when the town has already collapsed, become abandoned, and we are taken slowly through the past, so that each of the little mysteries are answered: what happened to the young boy’s father, why the doctor is hated, as well as why the colonel seems determined to secure a respectable burial for the doctor.

Other selected synopses:

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” – an old man who speaks an unintelligible language (which a priest quickly concludes is not Latin) and has enormous (though tattered) wings is found hurt and kept in the chicken coop, where an enterprising couple decide to sell admission
“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” – a fable-like tale about how the discovery of a very large, very handsome drowned man captures the hearts and imaginations of a small fishing village.
“Blacaman the Good, Vendor of Miracles” — a fable-like tale about a charlatan who sells miracles and restorative ointments and buys a local boy to be his apprentice/accomplice.
“Monologue of Isabel Watching It Rain in Macondo” – the only one that is linked back to the title story, has Isabel, the middle generation representative from our title story, recalling a large rain storm while her husband was still living with them, she was pregnant, and the doctor (though unmentioned) was still alive.
“Nabo” – another fable-like tale about a man who is kicked in the head by a horse and afterwards lives in total seclusion and isolation, so that the only reason people know he is still alive is because the food they prepare for him is taken and eaten, three times a day, for years.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
I’ve mostly just read Marquez’s older works, and this is a much quicker introduction to a master writer. Though it veers from fantastical to real throughout the collection, and I think that not all of the stories are as tightly wound as the first, it’s a good set of stories. In terms of other short story collections that tie together as a connected series of short stories, I can’t think of examples that are older, but it seems increasingly common in newer works (Melissa Bank’s The Wonder Spot, the last few stories in Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth — though I would probably pick this collection over either of those).
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on August 26, 2010
Leaf Storm is inferior compared to Strange Pilgrims, another collection of short stories by Marquez. Maybe I'm being too harsh on Leaf Storm but I do love Strange Pilgrims and One Hundred Years of Solitude so perhaps my expectations were too high. This is basically Marquez's first work of fiction and it took 7 years to publish. I understand why.

Leaf Storm is the name of the first story or novella to be precise. The story of the death of a hated doctor and how he became hated as well as why a grandfather, his daughter and grandson are the only ones who are willing to make sure he gets a proper burial. Parts are done well but the story is inconsistent throughout.

There are 6 more, much shorter, stories. My favorites were The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World, Blacaman the Good: Vendor of Miracles, and The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship. Blacaman and Ghost Ship have especially dark turns at the end.

If you have read previous Marquez you may want to skip Leaf Storm since your bar is probably too high.
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on April 3, 2013
I especially loved the "A Very Old Man with the Enormous Wings." It smacked of surrealism and was simply and beautifully written. Very melancholic in tone and narrative, as expected of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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on October 1, 2015
Brilliant author and great set of short stories. The short stories make fun campfire tales.
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on February 4, 1998
This wonderful book by GABO was the first one he wrote. So, it is very subject to the rules of writing. Later on the author would change completely to get the highest level at EL OTOñO DEL PATRIARCA, passing by "ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE". The story is a killing that the author did not witness but that everybody in Colombia knew, and nobody talked about. Maybe because of fear for their own safety. GABO's grandfather told him the story when he was less than 6 years old. As a grown up he investigated by himself. The story happens at the Banana Plantation in Northern Colombia, where the explotator owned the life of their workers because they did no follow the law. American gringos bought the final product. A revolution wanted to start but was stopped by the worst masacre ever in that area. I read this book the first time when it was published by chapters in the local newspaper. Then we knew that this man was going to be the greatest of all times, the Mohamad Ali of the Spanish literature in the 20th century. This book is a must for everybody interested in GABO's work. Jose
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