Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I wonder sometimes if it's the best idea to talk about "classics" on a blog that has such strong literacy aims, in some aspects strongly geared toward reluctant readers. But then I think about all the incredible leaders and thinkers in our world, and how many of them were inspired by or had their thinking shaped by "classics" or books with lasting ideas and strong stories. (My favorite list with leaders, musicians, athletes, actors, etc. is You Are What You Read. See booklists from One Direction, Eli Manning, Hillary Clinton, Jeff Kinney, and so much more.) You'll also find that some of them, and even a lot of us "readers" once were reluctant until convinced by such books.

I recently finished One Hundred Years of Solitude, and while it took me a little while to get through--mostly due to deadlines of other books--it was worth every minute I spent with it. Here's my brief thoughts:

One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Harper Perennial 
Release Date: this edition--2006. Originally 1967.
Genre: Literature, Magical Realism
Pages: 417
Amazon Indiebound Goodreads

One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement of a Nobel Prize winning career. 

 The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America. Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility -- the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth -- these universal themes dominate the novel. 

Whether he is describing an affair of passion or the voracity of capitalism and the corruption of government, Gabriel Garcia Marquez always writes with the simplicity, ease, and purity that are the mark of a master. Alternately reverential and comical, One Hundred Years of Solitude weaves the political, personal, and spiritual to bring a new consciousness to storytelling. Translated into dozens of languages, this stunning work is no less than an accounting of the history of the human race.

Not the easiest thing I've ever read, but really one of the most brilliant. Marquez's writing is dreamy and descriptive, and it's as easy to get lost in it as it is to get lost in the plot.

The magical realism was incredible. It seems totally plausible that characters do things like eat dirt, get taken up into heaven admist the laundry, survive insomnia plagues, etc. Sometimes I felt a bit like I was in a thrilling ride through the dryer's tumble cycle--round and round and round--with all the name repetition and of course the idea that history repeats itself, an idea so prominent you'd be as crazy as most of the characters to miss it.

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