I finally finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez tonight; apparently I started it in August of last year. The fact that I took so long to read it means I'll have to go back and read it again someday, as it was very hard to be attentive to the relationship of events happening at the end of the book to what happened at the beginning of the book, since the beginning was so far away.
It was mostly as much of a pleasure to read as it's supposed to be, but I did find it unpleasantly difficult for a while. There are so many characters, and so many characters with the same names, that it is hard to keep track of who is who to who. Couple that with an expectation implied in the text that the reader should be able to retain these details.
I was taking notes for a while, but I can't be expected to keep that up—I already have my degrees. Also, I lost one of the notebooks in a bar. There is a familial relations chart in the front of the book, to give you an idea of the scale we are talking about here.
That kind of complicated, epic fiction is generally not for me. I don't enjoy trying to keep track of so many plot-oriented details while I read. I prefer to focus on the language and happenings within smaller chunks of text.
But Márquez's writing is also dense and beautiful. He wrote it in 18 months while his life was basically collapsing around him, with debt piling up and possessions being sold off to take care of his family's needs. We had a word for this kind of writing in school, but now I can't remember what it is, so I'll just go with “badass”. It was something about writing when your survival depends on it. It's a good thing that this book was a quick success.
I posted one quote the other day; here is another I had in some notes that I did not lose:
They became indignant over the living images that the preposterous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears of affliction had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many felt that they had been the victims of some new and showy gypsy business and they decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings. (223)
My cousin gave me Love in the Time of Cholera as a gift over the holidays, so I'll be starting that sometime soon. But for now I need to finish Copyrights and Copywrongs and Secrets and Lies, and approximately 1,000 back issues of The Nation, and then I think it will be time for some poetry before starting another novel. Reed Bye's Join the Planets or The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan are good candidates for next up. Both are already on my bookshelf, staring at me.