Book Review : One Hundred Years of Solitude
The gypsies visit the village of Macondo founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia. His wife is not so pleased with him spending all the money they have to buy the gypsies’ inventions. The magic rods that pull out all the pots and pipes from the houses. The mysterious Melquiades excites Jose Arcadio Buendia and his family with magnets, ice, alchemy and a mysterious manuscript that lies undecipherd in the Buendia house for a century.
Marquez drives the reader through five generations of the Buendia family, insomnia, civil war, nostalgia and comes a full circle back to the manuscript of Melquiades written in a language unknown.
“Enormously, kaleidoscopically, mysteriously alive,” says the Guardian’s review at the back of the book. It couldn’t have said it better. It is constructed on solitude. The family’s disconnection with the world and the eventual contact which isolates them from it even further. The story is a narrative, much like flat design without embellishes of language or expression. His prose is precise because his sentences make the embellishes unncecessary. He writes of daily events and then swiftly, with a wave of his wand, makes the whole page spout butterflies or worms or ants. Sainthood, commerce, senility, passion, fury, murder, war, mayhem, every fathomable aspect of the human condition is included in one novel and five generations.
Enchantment oozes from the pages just like a book about magic or Harry Potter but it isn’t like any book about magic there was ever written. Along with a fair dollop of sex and incest, the village of Macondo is very real. It has human inhabitants with human urges. The enchantment seeps in from Melquiades’ room, from the daguerrotype of Remedios, from the passion of Colonel Aureliano to fight wars, from the persistence of Ursula to maintain house no matter what the costs, from the beauty of Remedios, the candy animals, the bag of bones, the little golden fishes, the bananas, the butterflies. William Kennedy, a great writer, whose authority with literature we can trust, says this book must be required reading for the entire human race. This book reeks with reality. The kind of reality you think about when you smell wet earth.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a journalist which gave him the inside scoop on people and have turned his writing into shards of mirrors where the reader is sometimes reflected exactly and sometimes is blurred or chipped away like at the edges of a broken piece. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1982 was awarded to Gabriel García Márquez “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”.1
1 MLA style: “The Nobel Prize in Literature 1982”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 23 Apr 2014. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1982/>
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