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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
"The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has an interesting history (which is described in a short introduction by the author). In 1955, 8 crew members of a Colombian naval vessel were washed overboard. One of them, Luis Alejandro Velasco, survived 10 harrowing days on a drifting life raft before reaching land. The sailor collaborated with Garcia Marquez to produce a series of newspaper articles about the ordeal; those articles eventually became this book, which has been translated into a very readable English by Randolph Hogan.
The book is written as the sailor's own first-person narrative. This is truly an amazing tale of endurance under some horrible conditions. Velasco describes his experiences in graphic detail: the harsh weather elements, the disorienting hallucinations, the times of despair. Particularly interesting are his encounters with a variety of marine animals. But it's not all suffering; there are moments of poetic beauty.
I've never experienced anything as harrowing as this. But as a U.S. Navy veteran, I can say that Garcia Marquez skillfully captures the wonder that can only be encountered at sea, far from land. An excellent book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2003
This book is a marvel. The writing is so engaging in its simplicity and clarity. Vivid details abound in this account of Luis A. Velasco's ten days at sea in a little raft after he was swept overboard from his Colombian naval ship, en route from Mobile, Alabama to Cartagena, Colombia. He endured watching fellow crew members drown, followed by daily visits from sharks, intense sun that blistered his skin, near starvation and thirst, and fear. It's an amazing account of just what it is to survive, and not think or ponder about life, but just survive. And all with one oar bitten in half by a shark!
I've loved this author for a long time, and consider this early work of his a special treat. Stories of the sea can be so magnificent! I kept thinking of the Old Man and the Sea when reading this. Very highly recommended! You won't be able to put it down.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 1998
This is an amazing little book. The factual, detached style adopted by Marquez makes the horrible suffering of the sailor seem even more real. Incredibly, the sailor manages to see the humor in his circumstance, and in the human condition, even after ten days at sea. Marquez communicates beautifully his sure grasp of human motivation.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 1998
One of the first works of Garcia Marquez. His account is so factual and fantastic, so involved and detached, hidden and obvious. Originally published in a serialized edition in his small newspaper, the attention it drew from the public for its content forced him to close down the newpaper due to goverment's pressure. It was made into a book only after he became a reknown writer. Absorbing and unveiling.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Relato de un Náufrago describe la experiencia de Luis Alejandro Velasco, un joven que en 1955 cayó al mar, junto con otros siete tripulantes de un destructor de la marina colombiana, y que tuvo la fortuna de ser el único sobreviviente, después de pasar diez días sin comer ni beber en una balsa a la deriva.

Aunque la historia fue escrita por Gabriel García Márquez en sus tiempos de periodista de El Espectador de Bogotá, con material producto de una larga entrevista al superviviente, los responsables de la publicación decidieron que el relato se narrara en primera persona y que lo firmara el náufrago. Lo publicaron a un mes de sucedidos los acontecimientos, en 14 episodios diarios consecutivos. La historia impactó, no por ser nueva en sí, puesto que la noticia ya había sido cubierta ampliamente por los medios y explotada por publicistas, sino porque por vez primera se hizo público un verdadero recuento de lo ocurrido. Quince años después, cuando Gabo ya había escrito Cien Años de Soledad, decide publicar la historia completa en formato de libro y firmarla como el autor.

La narración de esta increíble experiencia es estupendamente clara y vívida. Muestra con lujo de detalle, pero sin desperdiciar tinta, cómo sucedieron verdaderamente los acontecimientos que llevaron a la muerte a siete marinos colombianos, y a la fama, y luego al olvido, al único sobreviviente, sin que hubiera tormenta ni naufragio alguno. En este libro no hay nada de magia, puro realismo. Y se disfruta igual.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
A quick read - This story is told in painstaking detail, and one has to admire the recall of the narrator as he recounts the circumstances of the shipwreck, the ensuing 10 days at sea and his ultimate rescue. I was able to feel the roller coaster of hope and despair experienced by narrator, the joys, surges of adrenaline, anger and frustration, determination and resignation.
This book had me on the edge of my seat, but mainly because of the preface by the author - The Story of the Story. The story certainly could have stood alone when first written in a series of newspaper articles, later in book form, because the story was still in the recent collective memory of Columbians. However, if I picked up a copy without the background provided by Garcia Marquez - as some of my book club friends did -I would have been lost and frustrated, left wanting more information. The Story of the Story preface gives a depth and completion to the story of the shipwrecked sailor, makes it all the more interesting. Make sure you buy a copy that includes the preface.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2007
I read this book as a teenager and loved the fact that despite the fact that there is only one character, the story never becomes boring.
Garcia Marquez describes the situation so vividly you can feel that you are on that raft with the protagonist.
Definitely worth reading...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2001
...I read this book in Spanish as a teenager and loved it. Just ordered it for my teenager son and when it came I started reading it again and couldn't put it down. Excellent translation. Reads as well in English as in Spanish. Great piece of journalism.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 1999
This is a real page-turner. Start it when you have some real reading time available, because you will not want to put it down once you have started. I have read it several times already and am looking forward to reading it again. Relato de un Naufrago and The Old Man and the Sea are the only two books of this type that I have ever been able to complete, not being a serious fan of this type of tale. Relato de un Naufrago is an excellent, exciting read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2004
Mr Marquez based his narrative on the true story of 8 members of the destroyer "Caldas" of the Colombian Navy who fell overboard during a storm in the Caribbean Sea on February 28, 1955. It is a journalistic account of the survival of the only one of the eight men, Luis Alejandro Velaso, who managed to reach a life raft and survived ten days with neither food nor water until he drifted to the Colombian coast and was rescued by a group of villagers.

The narration is incredibly gripping considering that practically nothing happens to Luis during the ten days he spent on the raft. There is only the sea, the sky, the stars, the fish, the gulls and a lonely man lost at sea. It shows what a genial storyteller Mr Marquez is, a true virtuoso of the word. In the same vein, it is worth mentioning "The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel.
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