One hundred Years of Solitudeby Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Remember this? It was an Oprah Book Club selection before A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. She found it a fascinating read,too. Oh, my. Our Book Club at the old folks home selected it on her recommendation, and my report follows:
Interesting but not engrossing. I think not engrossing because, as book club assignment, it is like required reading in a college class. You feel obligated to study and report on it. The additional pressure affects your interest level.
I can read but skip paragraphs. Sort of want it to hurry along. Cannot leisurely read at the pace the author intended.
Chapter one: a parable… views how mankind seeks, accepts, adopts, and misuses changes and progress. The character accepts magnetism, optics, alchemy, and misuses them. He costs his wife her inheritance in his effort to double her gold. At the end of the chapter, he is introduced to ice. Will there be more of his adventure with ice? The opening sentence tells of the family adventure to see ice. The opening sentence also tells that he is eventually to be executed by firing squad.
Why did author open with the ultimate end of the character….death by firing squad. Are we supposed to be interested in how he came to be there?
Characters thus far
Melquiades the gypsy with the discoveries;
Colonel Aureliano Buenda, whose story we are following;
Jose Arcadio Buendia, the father whose squandered his wife’s inheritance;
Ursula Iguaran, the wife.
The town is Macondo.
I am reminded of my own parable of the sultan who ruled the desert and was given a bowl of liquid, water, in which he envisioned the whole earth and the worldwide uses of water, drink, agriculture, transportation, recreation, industry, comfort, health. He studied the bowl intently, guarded it zealously, but on the fifth day, it was all gone. In other words, he studied it to death. Like E.T. he was studied until he died.
Jose had been a rising citizen, farming well, raising his family. He had laid out the town of Macondo so well that every home had an equal amount of sunlight, and an equal distance to water. But when the alchemist came, Jose was distracted, captivated by his own imagination, and his grandiose plans bankrupted the family. However, they are about to set off to seek ice, which he called the largest diamond in the world. It was one when touched, burned the hands. The ice itself can be a metaphor for the whole topic. Ice is so cold, that it seems to burn the hands. Science is so progressive, it destroys the scientist. Frankenstein, beware, take note. Question: Is it the greed, or the alchemy, that destroys the alchemist?
Synopsis so far: Aureliano looks back as he faces the firing squad and remembers his father, Jose, as a successful town planner, family man, farmer is blinded by greed and curiosity and leaves his profession and seeks a new future, with ice.
To be continued.
Chapter 2... Flash back to the founding of Macondo. Tells how Jose met Ursula, married her and six months later forcing her to have sex by killing a villager who mocked his celibacy. Aureliano is born and has magnificent sexual organ which Ursula admires. Aureliano visits Pilar at night and gets her pregnant. Jose runs off with gypsies . Without the genealogical table I would be completely lost. Ursula runs after Jose, deserting Jose S and their new daughter Amarantha, and finds another civilization on the other side of the swamp and six months later brings back a crowd of people. The gypsies come with a flying carpet during the time Ursula is gone. Auerliano’s child by Pilar, Arcadio, comes to live with Jose and Ursula after her return at the start of chapter three, page 40
All of this has happened by page 40.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Synopsis continued…pages 40 to 56
Ursula starts a business of making candy animals
Rebeca, a seemingly mute cousin arrived from another town and was grudgingly taken in. She had to be trained to eat since she was surviving on soil from the courtyard and lime plaster from the walls. Unfortunately she had the plague, which has symptoms like Alzheimer’s, in that it causes the loss of memory. Through the candy animals, she infects much of the town. Jose, with his ingenuity combats the disease somewhat by compensating for memory loss with labels on everything, including the cow.
Someone moves in, who seems to Jose, because of his “Alzheimer’s", to be a stranger . He becomes a skilled silversmith. Then another stranger moves in with some magic potion. The potion helps Jose regain his memory and he realizes that stranger number one is his son, Jose Jr, and that stranger number two is the magician, Melquiades.
Page 56. I decided that I am indifferent to the fate of the town of Macondo, or it’s inhabitants, Jose, Ursula, Jose Jr., the forty year-old male virgin, or Melquiades, Rebeca, or Aureliano, whose fate we already know. Then, though I am wondering about the ice business, I lay the book aside.
Perhaps Oprah should avoid books who have numbers in their titles.