This work can only be the product of a mind in an extremely imaginative state. Gabriel Marquez blends the real and the surreal to weave a fantastic tale around the town of Macondo and the Buendia family starting with Jose Arcadio Buendia, the patriarch characterized by his entrepreneurial zeal and scientific spirit who, among other explorations, attempts to use a daguerreotype to disprove the existence of God and all the way to Aureliano who is finally seen deciphering parchments. In between you will find numerous Aurelianos and Arcadios all of which can get pretty confusing; to keep track of them all, fortunately, the book has the Buendia family tree printed at the beginning. Actually, unless you are very good with names and names that you don't hear often, you may want to write down the additional characters in there. Heck, even the teacher Melchor Escalona had the same problem "...used to knowing Jose Arcadio Segundo by his green shirt, went out of his mind when he discovered that the latter was wearing Aureliano Segundo's bracelet and that the other one said, nevertheless, that his name was Aureliano Segundo in spite of the fact that he was wearing the white shirt and the bracelet with Jose Arcadio Segundo's name. From then on he was never sure who was who".
The beautiful aspect of this story is that you are invited to passively sit and watch the events unfold (over a century) in Macondo, a town where, as explained by a poker-faced Gabriel Garcia, flying carpets, yellow butterflies, ascension to heaven are as mundane as the rest. Each moment in Macondo is as good as the next and the beginning is as good as the end and the end is as good as the beginning of the end and the beginning. You are not going to ask "what is next?" since, the way it is told, the beauty of the story lies in the 'here and now'. I don't know how it comes across in Spanish, but I would certainly give credit to Gregory Rabassa for the captivating presentation. Looking forward to reading it again.
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It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:
A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.
The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a ...