When first seen at his second death, the solitary despot who has lived for a conjectural 107 to 232 years, lies in his dungheap "house of castaways," vultures pecking at his body while a cow appears on the balcony where he delivered his pronunciamentos. His "autumn" lasted a long time after his first death--that of his lookalike--and he became a "sunset old man" anxious to leave the world of untruth and brutality he had created. Created, to be sure, with the help of foreign powers--Marines are stationed in the harbor. Cut down in size or years, he might remind you of real Caribbean lookalikes--perhaps Papa Doc or Trujillo. But then Garcia Marquez' patriarch is mythical, having sired 5000 children and grown a third set of teeth at the age of 150. Story follows story of his regime, a "stew of destruction," and of those closest to him: his favorite, the General, who ended up on a silver tray stuffed with pine nuts and herbs; or his mother mourned until his own dying--that innocent peasant mother who painted bird pictures, orioles; or his only spouse, Leticia, the novice he kidnapped from a convent and imported in a crate marked "fragile. . . this side up." Leticia educated and refined him and was destroyed, with their son, by killer dogs. The vertigo of images and scenes matches the momentum of those sentences, those ever-ongoing sentences, pages at a clip, which suggest an eternity of days and years. Read it as a magnification of fable, or as violent grand guignol, or as political allegory of a world which defies and stops time, much as the patriarch attempted to; read it as a canticle to the "miseries of glory" and mortality, remembering that "the most feared enemy is within oneself"; read it as a dazzling work of imaginative conjure; read it. . . .