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Singularly Frustrating and wonderful
on 26 June 2010
Honestly I was half-way through this book and was prepared at that moment to consign it to the pile of worthy books I have started but never finished. But a long train journey found me with no other literature and hours stretching beyond me, so out it came and suddenly, unexpectedly I found it finished before me.
For the first half of the book I had been mystified by the swirling mess of characters and the magical realism elements that at first annoyed me. But as I passed the half way mark and the modern world encroached on Moncado the atmosphere of magic faded, the creeping hand of death and dissolution becoming stronger as the Buendia family passed away.
It was the moment of realisation of this change that made me persevere with the book to the end. Suddenly the tone of the first half made sense as if history was a more magical place than more recent times. Indeed the past in the book is something that leaves an almost physical mark on a place so that even as the vagaries of modernity are introduced, they are inevitably rejected by nature just as it seems Macondo will eventually be reclaimed by the jungle.
The sheer scope of some of the writing is what make it attractive. I am by no means condoning the poor quality of the characterisation, and the entirely pretentious tone. But sometimes, just often enough, a piece of writing in the text is so concise and so beautifully weighted that you can almost forgive GGM.
So for heaven's sake, if you are struggling with this book, don't dismiss it as worthless. It's by no means perfect, but consider its structure as a collection of sublime moments surrounded by the less than brilliant, much like life it seems.