I bought a copy of this book last year, during my senior year of college and it is the singular finest piece of story-telling I've ever read. Take some hints this week from a Nobel prize winning author, and you'll appreciate your family, your friends and your life.
The Plot: We follow the multi-generational story of the Buendia family and their rise to power. The head, Jose Arcadio is the founder of the town of Macondo. It's magical and realistic, a true masterpiece revolving around utopia and the secrets of an unfortunate family.
Characters: The characters are doled out by generation, and there are a lot of them, here are the major ones:
The first generation Buendia is Jose Arcadio, who sets the entire journey and story into motion. His wife Ursula is also of the first generation. The second generation patriarch is Jose Arcadio jr. He is just as headstrong as his father and marries his adopted sister Rebeca (which causes a whole lot of trouble). Colonel Buendia is the first person born in Macondo and has his own issues with war and poetry. Third generation children Arcadio, Aureliano and Santa Sofia create problems of their own in the later pages of the book.
Why it Matters: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who just recently passed, was a Nobel Prize winner and absolute master of words. It is a magical novel that makes reality and and fantasy look like the same thing. It's also honest, filled with liars and adultery, murder and speculation of such. It pits family against family, friend against friend. It is an exposing of the reality of humanity. And it is amazing. It'll make you reevaluate how you view people and what their true motives are.
Marquez is an artist of fiction. His narrative voice is extremely strong utilizing weaving plot lines and basically invented a writing style. Magical realism, inherently seems like a contradiction, but it works beautifully. With One Hundred Years of Solitude, he uses elements like alchamy and magic with heartache, loss and human emotion. This marriage of the fantastical and the ultra-real makes his style incomparable.
He also writes about things he's familiar with. He writes from a Columbian perspective and injects himself and his experience in to his stories, which contributes to the touching personal nature of his style.
He employs vivid imagery and strange metaphors to garner a surrealist landscape for the very real and fleshed-out characters to live in. These style elements all contribute to the fantastic read that is One Hundred Years of Solitude.
"Time was not passing, It was turning in a circle."
"They were so close to each other that they preferred death to separation."
“Lost in the solitude of his immense power, he began to lose direction.”
“Thus they went on living in a reality that was slipping away, momentarily captured by words, but which would escape irremediably when they forgot the values of the written letters.”
If you want a profound read, then this is the book for you. Just by looking at the quotes, it's obvious that this book changes lives. It will make you reevaluate your existence, the way you look at others, and you will ultimately become a better person for reading it. Trust me.