Found this author when I obtained a biography about his life. The read was so intriguing that I began to collect his work to read. This is the third of his works that I have tackled. Each becomes more interesting to me or maybe I just better understand his writing. This collection of short stories leads off with No One Writes to the Colonel. Having visited Mexico, I understand some of the author's descriptions. The story focuses on a man who lives in poverty while he waits for his military pension to come through. It has been 30 years but still no answer. Of course, it doesn't help that the political situation has changed and changed and changed. Have his papers been lost? Even his lawyer doesn't know. His other hope is that a fighting cock, left to him by his deceased son, will become the champion of the region. The author captures the life of this patient, brave man while he waits - each day walking to the post office with the hope that the letter confirming his pension will be there. I found it a wonderful read.
Marquez considered No One Writes to the Colonel as his best book, saying that he had to write One Hundred Years of Solitude so that people would read No One Writes to the Colonel. The story is about an impoverished, retired colonel, a veteran of the Thousand Days' War, who still hopes to receive the pension he was promised some fifteen years earlier. The colonel lives with his asthmatic wife in a small village under martial law. The action opens with the colonel preparing to go to the funeral of a town musician whose death is notable because he was the first to die from natural causes in many years. The novel is set during the years of "La Violencia" in Colombia, when martial law and censorship prevail.
Because the book is actually the length of a short story, it is hard to really get to the characters. The book does give insight into what was really going on in Colombia at the time and uses references to censorship and the impact of government on society. Marquez explained that the novel was inspired by his grandfather, who was also a colonel and who never received the pension he was promised. However, there is also speculation that Marrquez took inspiration from his experience of unemployment in 1956 after the newspaper he had been working for shut down. The daily lives he witnessed during this time are said to be one of his inspirations for this novel.
I enjoyed reading this short story and found the characters interesting. I just wish it was a bit longer in order to get to know the characters better. I would recommend this short novel to those who are interested in the conditions in Colombia around the 1950's.