Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why not?

After watching an Oprah episode while I was in middle school which featured Gabriel García Márquez and his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, my mother and I rushed out to buy it. After all, it was the Oprah Book Club featured novel ;) I remember enjoying it even at that young age. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that to this day I still recommend it to people. But I've gotta say that this second time around it has gotten even better.

Maybe it's because I'm a little older now and can pick out literary symbolism, or maybe it's because I've lived in Colombia and feel a familial connection to anything which relates to that wonderful country; but truthfully it's probably like it always is: you catch a little bit more every time you experience a piece of art again.

Márquez truly is a master of magical realism. For me, reading Cien años de soledad is kind of like reading a Harry Potter book: there's a magic to it that invites your imagination, but when you put the book down you can't quite put your finger on what made it so special. The actual act of reading his tale is like an enchantment. And so, I've come to the conclusion that Gabriel García Márquez is, like J.K. Rowlings, a sorcerer (or sorceress for the latter). There's no other way to explain it.

So far, for this second reading, I'm at page 154, and the memories are flying back at me. I enjoy how Márquez sets the timeline of the story: jumping back and forth, reminding the reader of events past and characters almost forgotten. And, of course, the magical realism. Whether it's a plague of insomnia sweeping the town of Macondo causing a wave of forgetfulness, or José Arcadia Buendía coming across a Spanish ship filled with flowers in the middle of the dense jungle, or the gypsies coming to town with fabulous inventions and curiousities, or a lonely ghost haunting the dreams of his killer; the magic invades the pages seamlessly. The reader begins questioning what they think of as possible. The story isn't just in the imagination of Márquez, but now it's in my mind as well; and, ultimately, I simply shrug my shoulders, raise my eyebrows and say, "Why not?"


  1. This. is. awesome.
    I totally thought of Harry Potter as well hahaha. Not so much because of the magical stuff, but because of the reference to the philosopher's stone, which is of course, not original to Harry Potter either, and so it shows a connection to the real world and the thoughts and beliefs of the real world.
    The other thing I like about post, is your approach to taking in the novel and letting the happenings sink in with your "why not?" philosophy :) I agree that, whatever we think Marquez wrote, it could happen. Especially when reading a novel that we know falls under the Magical Realism category.

    Lastly, where is your Pura Vida from? cos that's a VERY VERY VERY popular saying in Costa Rica (where I'm from) :)

  2. Oh, poor García Márquez, to be compared to JK Rowling... and what's more, twice! ;)

    But it might help to think about the differences. For instance, this is, one would have to say, a rather more complexly layered book than any Harry Potter, no? Moreover, this is a book that is concerned with language (with words and the power of words, but also in the way that they can be used in the narrative itself) in a much more complex way than Rowling's.