This was a surprising little thing. It was was a beautifully written account of the history of a family, of a time, of two places, of tragedy on the heels of fortune or more tragedy.
Beyond the exquisite evocative quality, what came as a surprise was how it reminded me of Latin-american writing in general and Gabriel García Marquez in particular.
Like "100 años de Soledad"'s opening:
"Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había derecordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo"
Then, we have a paragraph down the middle in Chatwin's that's eerie in it's similar air.
I admit I had to stop for bit and try to find more about the history of this book then. I don't yet know more about a deliberate attempt at homage.
There was also the twisting-in-time narrative, the magic-realism feel of the whole, the overblown characteristics of the places and people. I'd never thought I'd find such writing from a foreigner. Then again, he did write an insightful book about my Patagonia, so maybe he's got a very permeable soul.
At any rate, It was awesome.