Book title: “One Hundred Years of Solitude”
Author: Gabriel García Márquez
Genre/Audience: Magical realism, fiction; adult
Worth the read?: Totally!
I had absolutely no expectations for One Hundred Years of Solitude because I hadn’t heard of the book until the day I checked it out of the library. I’ve since heard from several friends who have read it, and most of their thoughts were positive.
The recurring theme amongst friends was that the characters were hard to keep straight. After reading about two pages, I agreed wholeheartedly. The writing style is like a stream of consciousness and is saturated with colorful description and narration. Within that narration, though, characters’ lives weave in and out so much that my eyes were almost constantly crossed trying to keep everything straight.
Multiple characters were given the same names to honor family members, and often the lifetimes of the new characters overlapped the lives of those honored. Additionally, since the story encompasses the rise and fall of a community over its hundred year lifespan, each page contains an overwhelming amount of information.
I was so confused after the first chapter that I thought reading it might have been futile. Seriously, when I finished the first chapter, I flipped back to page one and was shocked to discover that the first sentence had told me exactly what was going to happen by the end of the introduction. Every single page contains subplots, asides, and narrative monologues so long that you forget where you started. It was really, really difficult to latch onto at first. I was overwhelmed.
The good news is, once I gave up understanding every single plot line and character, the story became really engaging and exponentially easier to follow. I know that I missed some things and have surely forgotten some important details, but for the most part, this book was so much fun to read.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that I could strike up an intelligent conversation about the novel without some guidance and leading questions. I almost wish I’d been able to read it in a class setting where I could bounce off of conversation with peers and a professor.
This is probably the most complex story I have ever read and, upon completion, I said I’d likely never reread it. I think I’ve already changed my tune, though. In a year or two, once I purchase my own copy, I think I’ll venture to reread it and see what else I can glean from its rich pages.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is definitely not a children’s book, as the novel includes fairly graphic depictions of war violence and sexual encounters (sometimes including minors). That said, this book is totally worth the read and so very worth discussing. I highly recommend it! If you read it or have read it before, be sure to let me know. This is one of my favorite books of the year thus far (even though I didn’t give it a 10…weird).
Happy reading, friends!