Thumbs up for One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez. Literature.
Like many great books, this is a love-it-or-hate-it book. Personally, I loved it. It’s one of my coworker’s favorite books, but he tends to warn people that it’s difficult. I was in the mood for a difficult book, so this seemed perfect. I was oddly disappointed to find that it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined. Yes, each paragraph is literally a story unto itself. Yes, it’s not quite linear. Yes, there are about 25 characters named Aureliano and a dozen José Arcadios. Would I recommend it for a novice reader? God, no. But Marquez is in control of his storytelling, and despite the multi-page paragraphs, the words flow by like water. If you are comfortable with a book that has meat on its bones, you would be missing one of the greatest literary experiences of the world if you missed this. It’s vivid and magical and lyrical and impossible to put down. Magnificent.
That Sunday, in fact, Rebeca arrived. She was only eleven years old. She had made the difficult trip from Manaure with some hide dealers who had taken on the task of delivering her along with a letter to José Arcadio Buendía, but they could not explain precisely who the person was who had asked the favor. Her entire baggage consisted of a small trunk, a little rocking chair with small hand-painted flowers, and a canvas sack which kept making a cloc-cloc-cloc sound, where she carried her parents’ bones. The letter addressed to José Arcadio Buendía was written in very warm terms by someone who still loved him very much in spite of time and distance, and who felt obliged by a basic humanitarian feeling to do the charitable thing and send him that poor unsheltered orphan, who was a second cousin of Úrsula’s and consequently also a relative of José Arcadio Buendía, although farther removed, because she was the daughter of that unforgettable friend Nicanor Ulloa and his very worthy wife Rebeca Montiel, may God keep them in His holy kingdom, whose remains the girl was carrying so that they might be given Christian burial. The names mentioned, as well as the signature on the letter, were perfectly legible, but neither José Arcadio Buendía nor Úrsula remembered having any relatives with those names, nor did they know anyone by the name of the sender of the letter, much less the remote village of Manaure. It was impossible to obtain any further information from the girl. From the moment she arrived she had been sitting in the rocker, sucking her finger and observing everyone with her large, startled eyes without giving any sign of understanding what they were asking her. She wore a diagonally striped dress that had been dyed black, worn by use, and a pair of scaly patent leather boots. Her hair was held behind her ears with bows of black ribbon. She wore a scapular with the images worn away by sweat, and on her right wrist the fang of a carnivorous animal mounted on a backing of copper as an amulet against the evil eye. Her greenish skin, her stomach, round and tense as a drum, revealed poor health and hunger that were older than she was, but when they gave her something to eat she kept the plate on her knees without tasting anything. They even began to think that she was a deaf-mute until the Indians asked her in their language if she wanted some water and she moved her eyes as if she recognized them and said yes with her head.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it!