SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Sui Generis book club #6

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

I started this book a while ago and wanted to finish before I left the States. I read his Love in the Time of Cholera after picking it up in a thrift store a few years back. I wasn't crazy about it at the time (primary complaint: the chapters were too freakin' long), but the themes resonated with me and I wanted to give Marquez another go. I'm glad I did.

I loved this book. It's in my top 50 for sure.

I was drawn in from the start (note: awesome opening sentence) and pulled along in curious wonder through the whole book. All of his characters are so alive--even the dead ones, who occasionally wander through the house and talk with the newcomers to the family. In the first instance of this happening, I was reminded of The Sims; in fact, there's a lot written about the house itself as it is expanded, renovated, redecorated, flooded, and finally destroyed. The setting for most of the book is Macondo, a vibrant, dynamic city with most of the action centered around the home of the Buendías. The story follows this family and all the people who come into contact with them.

Unfortunately the Buendías encounter a series of unfortunate events throughout the novel, and it got profoundly sad as the book went on. This seems to be intentional, as the matriarch of the home proclaims that her family is falling apart, and she sees all the old mistakes of her children being repeated by her great-grandchildren. I connected with these characters in a way that I rarely do, and I felt real heartache when bad things happened to them. But mixed in with the deaths and disappointments are the great joys of life, and Marquez captures these happy occasions just as well as the dark ones.

It's magical realism: the fantastic mixed with the mundane, more real than reality. Reading his books make me feel more human, more alive. And that's a wonderful and truly rare thing for a book to do, so I treasure books and authors that have this effect on me. It's been called "required reading for the entire human race," and everyone should at least pick it up and read through the first chapter or so. I bet you'll know right away whether it's your cup of tea or not. If you don't dig it from the start, you can put it back on the shelf with your curiosity satisfied; but if you like what you see, then you're in for a treat.

1 comment:

divine angst said...

oof. I LOVE Garcia Marquez. I read Solitude in college (in Spanish class, no less!) and then Cholera in the summer between graduation and real employment/life on my own.

There's something so magical about his writing; it manages to hit that little spot in your soul that didn't know what it was missing until he started writing about it.