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Customer Review

67 of 75 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Singularly Frustrating and wonderful, 26 Jun. 2010
This review is from: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Paperback)
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.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Mar 2012, 14:59:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012, 15:11:29 GMT
Exactly my sentiments, I am now halfway and find the characterization so poor, that I was considering putting it back on the shelf. Thanks to you I will persevere and go on reading it. Also (and this GGM cannot help) Spanish, like French and Italian has two forms of past tense, the pasado simple makes clear that several paragraphs within a chapter are referring to a certain period in the past. In English (or Dutch as I am reading the Dutch translation) this form does not exist, so sometimes I can't help thinking: "What on earth is he talking about, he is not in jail anymore (or other)." So you really have to pay attention. Anyway like you say, sometimes you encounter true jewels in the text.

Posted on 13 Feb 2013, 15:26:19 GMT
M. Carter says:
What a relief to read! I've heard so many say "it's wonderful, you MUST read it" that I truly felt it was me! I'm half way through and it's taken me almost 4 weeks to get this far, as I've found it a mess of frustration, names and discordant time-lines that have left me thinking "what on earth is going on?". I fully intended to persevere, and wondered onto Amazon to see if there were any comments that would reflect me own feelings about it. I am very glad that I did! Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2013, 19:35:57 GMT
C. Bailey says:
Really glad other people have found this review reassuring! I still maintain everything I said in this review, and with a little further reading of a collection of GGM short stories, my opinion of the book has been reinforced; both the positive and negative aspects.
Try the collection titled 'No One Writes to the Colonel', which is filled with much more concise and examples of the author's style, it also ties into 100YoS in the setting and some of the characters mentioned in passing, which I felt was a nice touch.
It also made much more apparent to me the depth of the political side of his writing (in novel and short story forms) and the way in which the magical realism is utilised to simultaneously mask and display it as allegory.
I fully intend to re-read 100 Years... to get a sense of whether my opinion has changed at all; but maybe once I've read a few more of those 'worthy books' I mentioned in the review!

Posted on 2 Jun 2014, 18:58:37 BST
Last edited by the author on 14 Jun 2014, 16:41:59 BST
Would you mind telling me what page I should skip to, so as too avoid wasting my time. We are only on this earth once and there are many things I would like to do before I die. So a hint would be appreciated. At the moment I have managed 15%.
Well I kept going and to be honest, it wasn't worth it.
It is not true that the book suddenly kicks into life after the halfway point. I believe readers are confusing the feeling of being on the home straight, with an actual improvement in the book it's self.
Characters continue to come and go, with little explanation or development, while the last chapters of the book deal with suspected paoediphile and incest. Maybe that's what is meant by character development .
When it comes to the human heart, there are few to match Conrad, Dickens and Hardy.
While at the moment I suspect our Latin friend got his accolades, simply because it was a South Americans turn.
Anyway, I am going to try another, his book on modern Colombia and the Escobar kidnapping look interesting and it might change my mind.
Wish me luck......

Posted on 13 Dec 2014, 11:37:12 GMT
RJK says:
I'm on the first half, almost ready to give up and typed into Google 'One Hundred Years of Solitude - What's all the fuss about?' as a result of your review I will persevere and at this stage really hope you're right.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2015, 16:41:26 BST
Palairet says:
If you aren't enjoying it so far, perhaps try reading Catch 22 which is a pretty absorbing "indisputable" classic. The problem that people are having with this book is that English translated from Spanish just seems peculiar. I've read it in Swedish and it's exactly the same, though I like the peculiar droning quality. Probably not good for people with even worse attention spans than my own.
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C. Bailey

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