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on May 5, 2014
One Hundred Years of Solitude really isn't as difficult or confusing as some reviews make it seem. People make it seem like it's impossible to get through so many repeating names, but even when the characters share a name, almost every single character (until the last generation--and by that point the first characters are long gone so that it wasn't really confusing) has a unique name. How is that confusing? And anyway, it doesn't take too many chapters or a genius to figure out they all share the same names for a reason. Also, I must say, if you don't like the first 50-100 pages, you probably aren't going to like the rest of the book. It stays like that... Plus, the first Jose Arcadio Buendia is one of the more entertaining characters in the book, in my opinion. But, I think Aureliano Segundo and Remedios The Beauty were the highlights in this book. I was cracking up throughout their scenes.

Although I feel I missed a lot about what was going on symbolically whilst reading (mostly a lot of the religious stuff), I still found this book to be extremely enjoyable. It's inspiring and surreal, whimsical, funny and sad--and it all causes a person to feel very introspective, because it blends so many aspects of what makes up a person's life. I looked up some of the themes and motifs after reading to make sure I caught everything, and I prefer many of my own interpretations. And I think Gabriel Garcia Marquez meant to write it in a way that was a more personal experience. At the end notes, he mentions in an interview how he wanted to capture the way an abuela tells stories to her grandchildren-- and I got that vibe the whole time. And a lot of times, the surreal in crazy old latin american stories is what makes you remember the life lessons behind the story. And I feel like that's what happened here.

But again, I feel like most people I know wouldn't like this book, and I can see where they're coming from. It definitely isn't for everyone. And I must stress that that's not coming from a pretentious place. His writing style will be frustrating to many readers I'd presume, because it's really just incredibly unique. But, if you can get past the style (long paragraphs, little fluctuation in narration, mentioning things that haven't really happened yet, or no main protagonist... etc) and the repetition of names, it really isn't super complicated or anything.

It isn't perfect, but It's great. And even though I started this review planning to give it four stars, after writing it--I think it's an important enough, and intricately weaved enough, and a unique enough a piece to warrant a 5-star from this fella.
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on August 17, 2017
My favorite book - but I hate the translation. So puritanical, takes the beauty and eroticism out of the story. Makes all sex sound perverted, dirty and sick - which in this novel, it often is, but it's also mesmerizing and infatuating and obsessive, and I think this English translation completely ignores that. We need a better translation. So glad I didn't read it in English when I first came across it.
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I first read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" not long after it was first published in English, almost 40 years ago. It was a wonderful, and magically, if you will, introduction to Latin American literature. Subsequently, I've read several other works by Marquez, notably, Love in the Time of Cholera (Vintage International) some 20 years later, but none have quite cast the spell of my first "love," this one, so I figured a re-read was in order. The "magic" of magic realism has lost none of its charm.

The story involves six generations of one family, established by Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran, who also helped found the town of Macondo, in the lowlands of Columbia, though the country is never specifically identified. The in-breeding (and also out-breeding) in this one family is simply astonishing. I can't remember if the original edition had a genealogical chart at the beginning, but this one does, and it provides an invaluable reference in keeping the philanderings, and the subsequent progeny, straight, particularly since numerous individuals over the generations have the same name. What is the "Scarlet Letter" that is prophesized for a family with such a high degree of consanguinity? That a child will be born with a pig's tail.

Marquez dazzles the reader with the intensity of his writing; it's as though he had a 1600 page book in him, but is given a 400 page limit. It is the furious sketching of a street artist, making every line count in a portrait. The strengths, follies, and interactions of the men and women are depicted in memorable events. And there seems to be a realistic balance and development of his characters. Marquez is also the master of segue, from one event to the other, and from one generation to another, with his characters moving from swaddling clothes, on to adulthood, and then into their decrepitude.

From my first reading, I had remembered Rebeca, with her "shameful" addiction to eating dirt. First time around, I chalked it up to Marquez's "magical realism," since no one really ate dirt. Several years later I learned that it is a wide-spread medical problem, often driven by a mineral deficiency that the person is trying to remediate. The author also describes the disease of insomnia which was spread to Macondo, with an accompanying plague of forgetfulness. Magical realism, or the forgetfulness of the "now" generation that has lost the stories of the past?

Establishing the time period comes slowly. Marquez mentions Sir Frances Drake, but he is in the unspecified past. It is only when a family portrait is taken, as a daguerreotype photo, that one realizes it must be in the 1840's-50's, with six generations to go. There are a multitude of themes: since this IS Latin America, Marquez has the obligatory gringos and their banana plantations (alas, all too true); there is endless, senseless war, with the two sides eventually unable to state what they are fighting for, except, of course, the war itself; there are the women who drive men crazy with their beauty, and there is the spitefulness of women to each other (alas, again, the "sisterhood'); there is economic development, and a worker's revolt, and the use of other members of the same class, but in uniform, who repress it; there is the role of the Catholic Church in Latin America, and even a family member who would be Pope and there are unflinching portrayals of the aging process, alas, to the third power.

On the re-read, I noticed a portion of the novel that was much further developed in Innocent Erendira: and Other Stories (Perennial Classics). Also nestled in the book was an important reference: "Taken among them were Jose Arcadio Segundo and Lorenzo Gavilan, a colonel in the Mexican revolution, exiled in Macondo, who said that he had been witness to the heroism of his comrade Artemio Cruz." Checking Marquez bio, he has been a long-time friend of Carlos Fuentes, slipped this reference in 100 years, which is an omen for me, since I was considering re-reading Fuentes marvelous The Death of Artemio Cruz: A Novel (FSG Classics) And in terms of omens, redux even, do future travel plans include meeting another character in the book, the Queen of Madagascar?

I recently had dinner with a woman who had been Ambassador to one of the Latin American countries. Spanish is her native language, and she still reads some of the Latin American writers in Spanish to "keep her language skills up." As for "100 years," she had read it four times, each time in English. It's a record I am unlikely to repeat, but this novel, which honors the Nobel Prize with its name, could use a third read, if I am granted enough time. It ages well, sans decrepitude, and provided much more meaning the second time around. 6-stars.
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on May 26, 2016
This is a famously fabulous book, in many senses of the adjective. I've tried to wade through it several times, but this is the first time I've made it all the way through. Unlike some other wonderful books, this is one is easy to pick up and put down, for there's no danger of losing the thread of the narrative. There is no single thread, but a tangle of them. Trying to separate them is to lose the point, if any. It's hard to follow the main character, for he has the same name as about a dozen of them. The solitude of the title is enjoyed/endured by many people with the same name - and by other people in their peculiar universe, together but apart. Disturbing and oddly humorous at times.
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on May 4, 2015
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a story impossible to summarize. This book tells the history of a family through over the course of one hundred years. The people in this story live in a world of hallucinations. Their dreams, loves, life and death are mixed up and the men and women reveal their human condition.
I grew up in the regions where this history takes place. Therefore I think everything that is told in the book is possible. I have seen similar situations happen to other families and my own. The old people used to tell stories like the ones in the book. In the magical region of "Macondo" all is possible.
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on December 8, 2014
Second time I've tried reading this and couldn't finish, or didn't want to. A little confusing, but mostly boring. I just kept feeling like anything goes and so it started seeming futile to keep track of events and characters. Perhaps I missed a deeper meaning, but it was not an interesting or fun read. Not recommended. I won't be trying a third time. Why two stars? Not sure. Probably out of respect for a much-loved author. Also, it wasn't without its charms here and there.
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on June 12, 2014
I really love this novel. I first read it in Spanish in the early 70's. I reread it for my book club in English. This translation is excellent. Garcia Marquez creates a world where time has little meaning. Actually he creates a town where time has little meaning. However, the town, Macondo, is the main character in the book.

After reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, you will understand why Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was a brilliant writer.
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on May 20, 2014
I ordered the the as an homage to Marquez who I believe is 9ne of the greatest writer's of of time. I was most sadened to learn of his death. I have read this wonderful book in Spanish. It is best in that language because only that language can capture the true esence of the Buendia family of Mocado and the culture it represents.It is, nevertheless, a treasure in English. Don't fil to read it at some point in your journey as a reader.
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on May 28, 2003
I am fascinated by the Mystical Realism with which Marquez uses to absorb his readers and keep them reading at a frenetic pace because they simply cannot put this gem of a read down! This book is wonderful, to say the least. I'm honored to read such a heart-felt magical exploration of the Buendias family and the subsequent growth of their village into modernization by invention and exposure to cultures other than their own. It is impossible, really, to define what this story is ABOUT in a paragraph or so....there are twists and turns and vivid accounts of nothing in particular; but you won't be sorry you bought this book. I am co-moderator of a book club and our group raved about this book from cover to cover. If you want to be a well-rounded reader, than you must have a copy of this book on your shelf. Its more than just significant, it's a treasure.
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on January 12, 2016
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is a rich, complex, multi-dimensional book that is told in the magical realism style. It tells the story of a several generations of a Colombian family that establishes the town of Macondo in an otherwise desolate swampland. The story begins with the patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, in the 1800s and continues into the 20th century with his descendants still living in the town.

As the book tells the story of the family over 100 years, it utilizes different and implausible devices to convey the sense that time is essentially a never ending circle. For example, repetition is commonly used in this story as a way to categorize the male family members by way of their first names, the José Arcadios, who have great physical strength but are marked by having a tragic and often suspicious death. For example, José Arcadio Buendía spends his last years rambling in Latin while tied up to a tree, while his son, José Arcadio dies mysteriously in his room after hearing a gunshot. In stark contrast are the Aurelianos who, instead of relying on physical strength, rely on their intellectual capabilities. Many of Aurelianos, for instance, were often found “enclosed in [the] workshop...[working on] the little gold fishes” (198), which is never adequately explained by the author. This is perhaps one of the aspects of magical realism that makes it difficult to enjoy the book with respect to the story being told: incoherent and unlikely things occur, with no explanation, and are simply presumed to be part of the natural life of the family.

In addition to repetition, Márquez also uses foreshadowing to explain the entire history of the Buendía family through Melquíades’ prophecies, who first appears as part of the wondrous gypsy group who tries to sell unusual items on the streets of Macondo and eventually evolves into José Arcadio Buendía’s friend and confidant. He later reappears in the Buendía house after his death as a ghostly figure, thus reenforcing the theme of magical realism, something so abstract and fantastical, appearing in this family’s everyday life. It is this reliance on the unlikely or supernatural that makes the book more of an educational read than an enjoyable one.

Spoiler alert: at the end of the book it is revealed that Melquíades prophecies, written in sanskrit and deciphered by Aureliano Babilonia, were in reality the history of the entire Buendía family and the book that we were reading was actually the prophecies of Melquíades.

Even though the circumstances surrounding the family are implausible, I thought the book presented a convincing portrayal of a proud and wealthy Colombian family that is surrounded by delusional, strange characters and unusual events. While Márquez’s literary style is difficult to follow and certainly not intended for leisurely reading, it is worthwhile for those who are willing to expend the time and effort and want to be enriched by Márquez’s mastery of language. In sum, while the story itself is dense and not exactly a thrilling page-turner, the reader can easily applaud Márquez’s intricate and gifted literary abilities.
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