Suzanne's Reviews > One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
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May 02, 2008

liked it

My father-in-law loves this book so much that he gave me a copy for Christmas two years in a row. My father had already given me a copy years before. Lots of people I respect rave about this book; how it is a classic, a timeless work of genius, a brilliant critique of capitalism, etc. etc. I really want to share their enthusiasm; I want to be a member of the tribe that has read and loved this book, but I am ashamed to admit that I have never been able to finish it.

I have tried to get through it several times. I have charted the family trees of the characters in order to keep track of the four-syllable names and incestuous couplings - but I get bored and frustrated with the meandering plot and give up half-way through every time. I keep thinking that maybe the end of the book, the part I've never been able to get to, is really great.

There are certain things I do really like about the book, which is why I still gave it three stars, the writing is beautiful, but I think the book, as a whole, is overrated - either that, or I'm missing something, the last part of the book perhaps, that inspires the kind of passionate enthusiasm that people tend to have about the book and it's author.

I've thought a lot about it on my stroller walks lately and I have come to the following conclusion: It's just not my genre. I prefer non-fiction and memoirs to fiction. The "magical realism" of García Márquez is too far out there for me - too fictional. I have enjoyed reading the commentary about the book far more than I have ever enjoyed the book. I have especially liked reading commentary about the book's allegorical meanings; readers who have linked this bizare work of fiction with fact, anchored the fictional town of Macondo to the places of García Márquez' childhood and the socio-political history of Columbia.

Someone once told me that there are two types of people: those who believe there are two types of people and those who do not. I am a knitter. Knitters are often lumped into two groups: process knitters or project knitters. Project knitters knit to produce wearable functional garments. Process knitters knit just for the experience of knitting. I am a process knitter, but a product reader. I like to knit but I'm not really concerned with the finished product. I like to read, but my focus is what I get out of a book more than the experience of reading it. I like to learn something either about a real place, real person, or gain some insight about myself. I like my fiction to be realistic. "Magical realism" is not for me. Every time I read this book I ask myself, "Where is this going? What is the point," where, if I were a process reader, perhaps I'd be able to let all of that go and appreciate the lyrical nature of the book's beautiful writing.

The cast of characters is too large. I think keeping track of all of them is a major distraction from the story. The plot is too abstract for me to grasp - and as much as I can appreciate the lyrical beauty of the language, I have never been able to get into this book.
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04/10 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Justina Yeah, it was a tough one for me to get through, too. I stopped and started several times before I finally finished. It was impossible to keep track of characters, and magical realism is a bit over the top. But in the end, when I remember this book (I read it years ago), the thing that remains for me is the painfully gorgeous writing. It's just stunning. I don't remember if there was some unbelievable ending that made it all worthwhile. I was frustrated through much of it too, but years later, I still say it was amazing. All in all, in sounds like you gleaned the same beauty from it that I did. :)

message 2: by Sandra (last edited Jan 17, 2010 07:47PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sandra I never got through it, either, so don't be ashamed. Life is short. Why force yourself to do something you don't enjoy?

Dyan Phillips I stopped, too. I renewed it at the library twice and couldn't bring myself to buy it. When I am reading it, I love it but I usually find myself picking up another book to read instead. I will (hopefully) finish it this summer.

message 4: by Sharon (new)

Sharon yes, I have not been able to get through this book. I don't know if I could do it even if I had 100 years of solitude.

message 5: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol I have tried reading this twice and I just can't do it. Is there a plot to this book?

Anita Pomerantz Right there with you! I love literary fiction, but couldn't stand this book (and I did force myself to finish it because I'm compulsive). Like you, I recognize now that magical realism is so not my thing. I like my fiction very realistic and, like you, love non-fiction and memoirs too.

I honestly don't understand what anyone sees in this book, but I have friends (who read boatloads) who loved it - - so I think I have to admit "it's me".

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