One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García MárquezRevised 28 March 2012
Huh? Oh. Oh, man. Wow.
I just had the weirdest dream.
There was this little town, right? And everybody had, like, the same two names. And there was this guy who lived under a tree and a lady who ate dirt and some other guy who just made little gold fishes all the time. And sometimes it rained and sometimes it didn’t, and… and there were fire ants everywhere, and some girl got carried off into the sky by her laundry…
Wow. That was messed up.
I need some coffee.
The was roughly how I felt after reading this book. This is really the only time I’ve ever read a book and thought, “You know, this book would be awesome if I were stoned.” And I don’t even know if being stoned works on books that way.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (which is such a fun name to say) is one of those Writers You Should Read. You know the type – they’re the ones that everyone claims to have read, but no one really has. The ones you put in your online dating profile so that people will think you’re smarter than you really are. You get some kind of intellectual bonus points or something, the kind of highbrow cachet that you just don’t get from reading someone like Stephen King or Clive Barker.
Marquez was one of the first writers to use “magical realism,” a style of fantasy wherein the fantastic and the unbelievable are treated as everyday occurrences. While I’m sure it contributed to the modern genre of urban fantasy – which also mixes the fantastic with the real – magical realism doesn’t really go out of its way to point out the weirdness and the bizarrity. These things just happen. A girl floats off into the sky, a man lives far longer than he should, and these things are mentioned in passing as though they were perfectly normal.
In this case, Colonel Aureliano Buendia has seventeen illegitimate sons, all named Aureliano, by seventeen different women, and they all come to his house on the same day. Remedios the Beauty is a girl so beautiful that men just waste away in front of her, but she doesn’t even notice. The twins Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcadio Segundo may have, in fact, switched identities when they were children, but no one knows for sure – not even them. In the small town of Macondo, weird things happen all the time, and nobody really notices. Or if they do notice that, for example, the town’s patriarch has been living for the last twenty years tied to a chestnut tree, nobody thinks anything is at all unusual about it.
This, of course, is a great example of Dream Logic – the weird seems normal to a dreamer, and you have no reason to question anything that’s happening around you. Or if you do notice that something is wrong, but no one else seems to be worried about it, then you try to pretend like coming to work dressed only in a pair of spangly stripper briefs and a cowboy hat is perfectly normal.
Another element of dreaminess that pervades this book is that there’s really no story here, at least not in the way that we have come to expect. Reading this book is kind of like a really weird game of The Sims - it’s about a family that keeps getting bigger and bigger, and something happens to everybody. So, the narrator moves around from one character to another, giving them their moment for a little while, and then it moves on to someone else, very smoothly and without much fanfare. There’s very little dialogue, so the story can shift very easily, and it often does.
Each character has their story to tell, but you’re not allowed to linger for very long on any one of them before Garcia shows you what’s happening to someone else. The result is one long, continuous narrative about this large and ultimately doomed family, wherein the Buendia family itself is the main character, and the actual family members are secondary to that.
It was certainly an interesting reading experience, but it took a while to get through. I actually kept falling asleep as I read it, which is unusual for me. But perhaps that’s what Garcia would have wanted to happen. By reading his book, I slipped off into that non-world of dreams and illusions, where the fantastic is commonplace and ice is something your father takes you to discover.
“[Arcadio] imposed obligatory military service for men over eighteen, declared to be public property any animals walking the streets after six in the evening, and made men who were overage wear red armbands. He sequestered Father Nicanor in the parish house under pain of execution and prohibited him from saying mass or ringing the bells unless it was for a Liberal victory. In order that no one would doubt the severity of his aims, he ordered a firing squad organized in the square and had it shoot a scarecrow. At first no one took him seriously.”
On the trail of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
Sign in. Breakout star Erin Moriarty of " The Boys " shouts out her real-life super squad of actors. Watch now. In a small village in Latin America, Santiago Nasar is killed in the morning, which surprises nobody. The Vicario brothers were openly declaring they would kill him to regain the lost honor Florentino, rejected by the beautiful Fermina at a young age, devotes much of his adult life to carnal affairs as a desperate attempt to heal his broken heart.
Don't have an account yet? Get the most out of your experience with a personalized all-access pass to everything local on events, music, restaurants, news and more. We ran across an article in The News Herald about the classic books that aren't available in e-book format yet and we were surprised at the list they dug up. Those might not be essential reading for everyone, but the following novels are. Unfortunately, in order to enjoy these titles, you'll have to pick up an ink-and-paper version. It's available in e-book format -- in Spanish.
According to some reports, the number of copies of the Spanish version is next only to the Bible. The book spans more than a century and seven generations of the Buendia family. The quirky, wild and unpredictable men and women and their their strange ways make the story enchanting. There is rebellion, inhuman suppression, massacre, non-stop rain and floods, and so on. Slowly, the town of Macondo starts decaying, and so does the Buendia family. The translation in English is excellent, making the story and the characters come alive. In fact, the author seems to have said that he prefers the English version to the Spanish one.
Twelve hours and a couple pots of coffee later, I wanted to read it again right away. The book has every feature of a binge-worthy soap opera: characters we love and love to hate, doomed affairs, sex, violence, endless family squabbling, tragedy, intrigue, melodrama…. He wanted his work to reach as many people as possible, to thrill and entertain.
dream it pin it live it