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In Evil Hour, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Harper & Row, originally published in Spain by Premio Literario Esso in 1962, (translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa), 183 pp
Summary from Goodreads: Written just before One Hundred Years of Solitude, this fascinating novel of a Colombian river town possessed by evil points to the author's later flowering and greatness.
Book # 4 of those read from my 1962 list in August. Most of the time I read for pleasure and most of the books I read do give me pleasure. Sometimes I read because of learning goals I have set for myself. That second reason is why I read this one.
The great and wonderful Gabriel Garcia Marquez's first novel was not great or wonderful to me. If I hadn't already read and loved One Hundred Years of Solitude as well as Love in the Time of Cholera, this short one might have put me off the author for good. But in the interest of watching a great author develop it was a worthwhile read.
Originally published in Spain in 1962 while the writer was living in Paris, there is some lore associated with it. His first title was Este Pueblo de Mierda (This Town of Shit). He disowned the first version, rewrote it, and garnered a literary prize for La Mala Hora in his native Colombia.
In any case, I had a hard time with it. I could tell it was political in nature, a send-up of various troubles with the government of Colombia and its repressive policies in the 1950s. (In his memoir, Living to Tell the Tale, I learned that as a student Garcia Marquez was involved with radical politics.)
I found the story hard to follow even though I have read early novels by Jorge Amado that deal with similar periods in Brazil. Perhaps the difference is that Amado wrote "social realism" while Garcia Marquez preferred "magical realism." After I wrote that last sentence, I thought that possibly in this first novel, Garcia Marquez was trying to do social realism.
He does create some characters that show promise of better things to come, including a number of corrupt individuals. The plot involves attempts by the town mayor to put a stop to those who are posting broadsheets around town revealing the secrets of it inhabitants. There are both humor and intrigue.
Still, I didn't figure out the point of the story until the last few pages. It was a slog despite its short length. One Hundred Years of Solitude came just five years later and I look forward to rereading as it has been 17 years since I first encountered and loved it.
(In Evil Hour is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)