Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Look: One Hundred Years of Solitude

I’m about half way through Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I must say that I’m enjoying it a lot more than the other one of his I read, Love in the Time of Cholera. It was many years ago now that I read that one, but if I remember correctly what bothered me about it was that the magical realism elements seemed to come in out of nowhere randomly, and I couldn’t tell for what purpose. More trying on my nerves, though, was how it just seemed to drag on and never, even at the end, offered any redemption or catharsis, either for the characters or the reader. Not that I have to have my stories with happy endings, but I guess I just found it an odd mix of animism and post-modernism that I couldn’t make any sense of. But I digress. One Hundred Years of Solitude is better.

Two things about it have been bugging me so far, though. 1) The way the narrative jumps back and forth through time makes the story hard to follow and, 2) The fact that so many of the characters have the same names also makes the story hard to follow. These things have somewhat thwarted my enjoyment of the tales of a fascinating and varied family. Lately, though, I’m beginning to get the sense that the jumbled quality and fuzzy lines separating characters and timelines may in fact have a thematic purpose. I wonder if it’s linked to an idea about the pervasive, timeless nature of solitude. About how character, era, and circumstance may in some ways be unique, but that the ultimate situation of mankind is solitude. We are all alone together. But that’s just a guess for now. Tell you more later.   

Has anyone else read this book? What do you think Marquez is on about?  

Sidenote: I was inspired to read this book by my recent trip to Colombia, Marquez’s country of origin. I wanted to read it there, but it cost upwards of $30 to buy in English, so I had to wait. Meanwhile, when I was in Cartegena, I got to see Marquez’s house. And Shakira’s, too. :P 

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