Saturday, March 29, 2008

One Hundred Years of Solitude

One of my selections for the Numbers Challenge is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gariel Garcia Marquez.

For some reason I had a really wrong impression of this book. It was recommended to me a few years ago by a boy I sat by in middle school band when I was bumped from first chair sax to second. (At least I think that happened, I definitely sat at first far longer than deserved.) At the time of the recommendation I assumed the book had an Indian theme. (In my defense, he didn't tell me the name of the author...) So I had a little misinformation. The next thing I knew, it was an Oprah's Book Club title. If you've read this post, you know how I feel about that.

Regardless, I gave it a try. I'll be honest. I'm still digesting this book.

As I started to read the first few chapters, I struggled to explain the mood, the casual tone of the narrator, despite the many mystifying events. When I read Marquez's explanation, of course it made perfect sense. I must quote.

"The tone I eventually used in One Hundred Years of Solitude was based on the way my grandmother used to tell stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness."

He goes on to describe his grandmother's facial expression during her stories. It didn't change. He realized he had to tell the story with a "brick face."

But what is the story? One Hundred Years of Solitude tells of the rise and fall of the village Macondo through the lives of the Buendia family. There's love, death, war, incest... and miracles. Not to mention a fairly complicated and difficult to follow family tree due to the recycling of names and aforementioned intrafamilial hook-ups.

I found myself looking forward to whatever new fantastic occurrence would happen next and the family's subdued reaction.

Recommendation: If you enjoy long meandering books and surrealism, One Hundred Years of Solitude is definitely worth a look.

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