Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It happened in a day. On a single afternoon like a film. Like a  mist that assaults a man with this totality. He was simply sitting there, reading—but really, he could have been doing anything: finishing a sandwich, pulling back the curtains, staring at the daguerreotype of Remedios. But why was it written in Sanskrit? And why did it take so long to decipher?

Can we ask “where does the time go?” and expect a rational response? I’ll be more specific—about the sagging hammocks that swing to an offbeat clock, about the ants more inky and methodical than that, about the kind of mouth that refuses air but nonetheless breathes.

For now, my heart is with Ursula, who slung her shadow over her back, drug it room to room until it burst.  I can’t imagine living for 125 years; seeing all that living and dying—the former bulldoze into the latter. Maybe, maybe it all interlaced like film: there’s light, a lack of light, and a procession of pictures changing so rapidly that—in the end—all she had was a grotesque sketch of experience and the overwhelming urge to remember it differently.

So what am I talking about? How about torture. How about the fact that the story happened before it happened. How unfair, you might say; that the blueprint of every moment was written by a ghost—a third party, not even someone you could count on (Melquiades).

What does it mean that Melquiades belonged to the nomads? Why can’t “home” just stand still for a second?

What’s magical realism? An imaginative foil for “realism”? A subversive or highly symbolic interiorization of the external world? A  Surrealist belief in un-manifested manifestos buried deep inside the brain of a pig?  No? None of these? How about we dump the word âmagical’—because the story does not keep a secret, it reveals one. Then, just for kicks, let’s piss on the word “realism.” Come on. Don’t be shy. Let’s wash our feet of the scientific method. (What did Francis Bacon ever do for you anyway?—not that Francis Bacon, the other one). Just say it. Say yes, carpets flew. Yes, Remedios the Beauty ascended. Yes, Aureliano had a pig’s tail. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Think about destiny for an instant. Read all of it, in one instant. Drop it into your mouth.  Squeeze it through your teeth, slowly, imperceptively. Nothing will happen until it’s gone. And what of colonialism? What is it about the human rights struggle that gives way to rain?

Try this. Dance to the sound of human suffering. No? Are the steps written in Sanskit on the floor? Must we cut off our shins and dance on our knees?

Can we hunker over a gold chamber-pot and expect to be forgiven?

Are they still finding swollen carcasses on the shore?

Ok. Forget about guilt. First, think of an inexplicable horror. If history represents a suffering that we don’t understand, can we approximate it? represent it? write little narratives about invisible people in forgotten places? And even if we could inch towards it—that suffering—revision by revision, would we want to?

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