The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Title/Author: The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Publisher: Vintage International
Pages: 106
ISBN: 0-679-72205-x

In a nutshell
In February 1955, eight crew members of the Caladas, a Colombian destroyer, were washed over-alive, on a deserted beach in northern Colombia. Several of them drowned shortly before arriving at the port of Cartagena de Indias due to the existence of overweight contraband aboard the vessel. Ten days after the shipwreck, one of the sailors, Luis Alejandro Velasco, turned up on a deserted beach and became a hero overnight. Therein began his telling and selling his story to the media, including El Spectador where Marquez worked. Only this time, he tells the whole story, one that wasn’t sanitized or authorized by the Colombian government.

What I liked
The lesson learnt – accepting adversity and making the best out of it. Velasco was lost and alone on a drifting life raft, far away from civilization. Nature was his friend and foe. She tore him apart, but also kept him alive. The scorching sun burnt his skin but each sun rise gave him new hope. The shark-infested waters could end his life, but it was also his source of hydration. And in darkness, nobody would be able to spot him from afar, but it was also the only time when the sharks left him alone.

Left with no food, Velasco ate his belt, the 3 business cards he had in his pocket and a 30cm root he found which tasted like blood. He also drank sea water, learning that it’s not harmful to the body and only resorted to it when the pain in my throat became unbearable.

Though Nature challenged Velasco in every possible way, she was also the only thing that also kept him sane and alive.

It’s the same with Life. She’s your best friend when things are going your way. But when she throws you lemons (and calls you an ungrateful friend), just make lemonade and make a toast. Thank her for all the good times and wait till she runs outta lemons. Meanwhile enjoy your lemonade 🙂

What I disliked

Reading the Shipwrecked Sailor was like watching ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ on Discovery, and I think I much prefer it filmed on TV.

I’m in two minds about this book. I can’t say I either enjoyed or hated it. I only finished Shipwrecked because it was a Marquez and it’s only 106 pages 😛

I guess I was expecting Marquez’s usual rich and luscious prose that I fell in love with in Love in the Time of Cholera and Melancholy Whore. Maybe because he first wrote Shipwrecked Sailor as a series of newspaper articles that required a different style?

My verdict? 3/5

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