One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Laura's Review)

One Hundred Years of SolitudeGabriel Garcia Marquez
458 pages

First sentence: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Reflections: I learned something reading this book: I learned that I do not particularly care for "magical realism." I was initially attracted to this book because it's one of the "1001 books you must read before you die," and because the author has received such critical acclaim. It seemed like a must-read. When I decided to read it to satisfy both the "Reading across Borders" and "Spring Reading Thing" challenges, it became a must-read. I perservered, but in the end I am left with little to say about this book.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a multi-generational family saga. Magical realism, according to Wikipedia, is "an artistic genre in which magical elements appear in an otherwise realistic setting." I was reminded of American folklore like Paul Bunyan. The characters had unusually strong abilities, and fantastic events like plagues happened often, and yet the setting in which this occurred was a sleepy rural village that you might find anywhere.

The writing is lyrical and in that sense I can understand why Marquez is so highly regarded. I just couldn't connect with the style and I think this may be one of those books that would be more appreciated if read as part of a literature course, where you can explore the themes and hidden meanings of events that take place in the story. As leisure reading, it left me flat.
My original review can be found here.


aloi said...

I can understand why magical realism may be a bit much for some. I've noticed though that those with an asian or latin american background usually take it in stride. strange, inexplicable things, as well as belief in superstition and myth are not that unusual at all.

have you read haruki murakami? he has the same style in a japanese context of course.

Laura said...

No, I haven't read Murakami yet, but I understand The Windup Bird Chronicle is quite good.

aloi said...

it's quite a strange book, laura. i enjoyed wind-up bird, maybe like him. did you hear that his name is also being floated for the Nobel?!

enzo said...

Dear Laura, one hundred years of solitude is considered the second best novel ever written after the don quixote. too bad for jealous english speakers like yourself, the best two books in literature history are in spanish language. the reason why you dont get its message is very simple: you just dont have what it takes to appreciate it. you just stay with ophra winfred's recomended books; harry potter and such. that`s the kind of literature your brain can handle, honey.

enzo said...

this is to aloi:
I agree with you, idiot. the best literature s always been asian; spanish and latin american. the english language got nothing. what you got?. miss stupid rowling, that chick who wrote harry potter?
read this masterpiece in its original language:
"Aquel ser prodigioso que decìa poseer las claves de Nostradamus, era un hombre lùgrube, envuelto en un aura triste, con una mirada asiàtica que parecìa conocer el otro lado de las cosas. Usaba un sombrero grande y negro, como las alas extendidas de un cuervo, y un chaleco de terciopelo patinado por el verdìn de los siglos".
haha, can harry potter do that?.
hell no!.

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