Friday, March 13, 2009

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Garbriel Garcia Marquez

Summary: The book traces six generations of the Buendia family in Macondo as they thrive and struggle in repetitious circles and purposeless existence.

Musings: I consider myself to be a very good reader. A patient reader. I've read through long and difficult books that others gave up, and I've prided myself on finishing nearly all the books I was assigned throughout high school and college. I can usually find something worthwhile in every decent text.

Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude was the most painful reading experience of my life. The book described as "required reading for the entire human race" (apparent moron William Kennedy, NYTimes Book Review) was possibly the worst book I have ever read. I hated every minute spent with this book. Only the glowing reviews and Nobel Prize winning author kept me reading, but I shouldn't have bothered. It was terrible.

I have no idea what is supposed to be appealing about this book. I can appreciate a blend of surrealism with reality, but it seemed to serve no purpose. A book where everyone is named the same thing? I guess it means something, but it was annoying as hell. A book where all the characters do the same things over again and have weird incestuous feelings about various family members... um, I don't even know.

From One Hundred Years of Solitude, I learned that all people are crazy but that their craziness is meaningless. They also have absurd obsessive feelings about love that don't seem remotely human-like. Romeo said love was "a madness most discreet, a choking gall," but his love with Juliet at least seemed grounded in humanness. Marquez must have took the quote to heart. Each generation of Buendias does the exact same things as the previous generation. I think about a billion times the house fell into "total" disrepair and was then super cleaned up by someone else. Also everyone likes to become obsessed and solitary. And live in closed rooms. Or do something else compulsively for their entire lives.

Near the end of the book, a character muses that "the history of the family was a machine with unavoidable repetitions" (425). That may be, but apparently Marquez became that same machine.

In the end, I found no theme, no character, no story, no description that sparked anything for me. Like when you discover a movie you've been watching has been going on for only thirty minutes, not the hours you expected, One Hundred Years was an intolerable continuum of tedium.

Clearly many people think this book is genius. I consider myself intelligent enough to speak thoughtfully on books, but, as I said, I have nothing. Now I'm repeating myself, so I'm going to stop before I become sickened with Marquez's style myself.

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