Thursday, April 24, 2008

35. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

After about 40 pages, I felt like I had entered the world of Laura Esquivel, author of Like Water for Chocolate. Instead of the Mexican mythology/mysticism, One Hundred Years of Solitude focuses on Latin American history. Simply, it is a fairy tale history with a splash of fantasy.

The book revolves around the Buendia family. Purposefully confusing, nearly all of the male members are either named Jose Arcadio or Aureliano (and I will apologize for my lack of proper Spanish accents now). Covering seven generations, Marquez tells the story of the settling of Latin America, though without naming specific countries. There are civil wars, familial strife, and mystical thinking. For example, just one random page-flip and I reread this passage:

"A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.

"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted."

After getting over the confusion of names, it was a charming read, though too much cheekiness can be like too much sugar. By the time I finished the novel, I was ready to say goodbye to the Buendias and all of their quirks.

4.0 out of 5.0 Spanish Town Cocktails.


Jeane said...

I found this book a grand confusion when I read it in high school (assigned). Perhaps it's time to read it again! I think it would be easier to appreciate now.

Jason said...

When I suggest this book to people (and I do that fairly often) I warn them: this book is work to read, but it's worth it. Marquez rarely engages in a full-blown scene over the course of these several hundred pages, and those don't last long, but his sheer inventiveness is beyond charming.

I have a nuge man-crush on GGM. But I totally understand where Jeane is coming from. If someone is forced to read this I don't see it going well.