Because my “to read” list is so unbelievably and cumbersomely long, I never have been able to truly commit to which book I will read next. Not only do my shelves contain a multitude of books that I have purchased and not gotten around to reading, but I have multiple lists – digital, handwritten, or quiet promises to myself of books that I want to read… someday. I never have and never will compile these titles into one list, but if I were to do so it would be hundreds and hundreds of lines long. How could somebody possibly decide which one to pick up next? I have resorted to letting fate sort it out for me.
A couple months ago, a friend of mine mentioned that One Hundred Years of Solitude was his favorite book and even claimed it was probably the best book ever written. Shortly after that, I stumbled upon this article on Lit Hub that discusses the experience of time in Gabriel García Márquez’s writing. My friend’s mention dragged One Hundred Years of Solitude out of the depths of my half-remembered lists and positioned it in a place of importance, and the chance find of the article was the “sign” I needed to decide that it would be the next book for me to read.
I was not immediately sure that I liked the book. In fact, I finished the entire novel and still wasn’t entirely certain. Although I could liken Márquez’s writing to falling into a trance – as though I was being rocked gently in a hammock on a summer day – halfway through the novel I felt very lost. It wasn’t the multiple characters who have the same name that confused me (despite the fact that there are no fewer than 22 people named Aureliano!) and it wasn’t the way the plot twisted through the years like a vine turning one way and then looping back on itself and then curling another direction… the only thing that confused me was that I had no idea what it was about. Why had he written it? I couldn’t find a driving force in the book and I was frustrated without knowing what I should latch onto. In fact, this is the first book in years for which I decided to read the sparknotes page in order to have some theme to follow or symbol to light upon. Eventually, I found my stride with reading it, and I am very glad to have done so because it is a masterpiece that happily lived up to the hype it received. Continue reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude: My Surreal Relationship with Magical Realism”