One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The picture of the book cover here doesn't look like the one I bought at MPH (a green cover), but it'll do. This book has been raved about by lots of literature geeks and critics (google it and you'll see), but the only quote I can recall off the top of my head is "a milestone in Spanish literature" but I think I'm paraphrasing, and I don't remember the source.
If and when you do decide to satisfy your curiousity, you'll probably note the family tree given before the story begins. Usually maps and family trees etc can easily be ignored, but not in this case. The Spanish in this story have a habit of naming all their children after fathers, brothers and cousins, so confusion is guaranteed. What I did was to copy the family tree down on a piece of paper to use as a bookmark (back it with the material from an old exercise book cover if you tend to be rough), and believe me, this helps a lot.
The story is a superb narrative, chronicling the lives of the Buendia family for a century. They love each other, bitch about each other, and fight each other, in their South American jungle settlement. The back of the book calls it a "magical" story, where it is "part exotic paradise, part nightmare" and "a fantastic world of miracles and mirages." As cheesily preposterous as this sounds, I assure you that it's all truth. It's difficult to start reading it, yes, but once you find your pacing it's nearly impossible to stop.
Marquez has the talent to tell a story with fantastical dream-like twists and turns, but you catch yourself after each one and as impossible as you know it is, you can actually convince yourself that it could happen. Have you ever encountered one of those books? It actually, momentarily, altered my perception of reality. For example, one girl floats away into the sky, and although it's surprising, it actually seems to make sense in the context of the story. No, really.
The family spans a few generations and flits from sibling to sibling. To keep us sane, Marquez gives us Ursula, who stays with the reader and the events from the beginning to the end of the book despite its constant changes. She is the wife of Jose Arcadio Buendia, and the mother of three children. They start the story. The last in the dynasty, Aureliano Buendia ends it. There is an encoded book with secrets that lay hidden for years, and he is the one who unlocks it and unravels its mysteries.
I can't really write more, because as it is, the family tree and the marriages already give bits of the story away before it's even started. But it's definitely, most definitely, worth your time. dizzyfirefly # 3:06 PM