Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Un poco largo, un poco bueno..

Whew, back to reading, studying and attempting to pay attention in my classes. I never would have thought that a two week vacation would equate to complete memory loss - alright, maybe the excessive amounts of alcohol consumed played a small part. Anyway, after 3 days back in the grind, I'm starting to feel like a student again.

The title of this post really doesn't do justice to my feelings about Cien años so far. I picked the book up after class and decided to start reading before a much needed session at the gym. Who would have thought that when I started reading, I wouldn't want to stop. This book is just THAT good; so good in fact, that I had to be dragged out of my room kicking and screaming like a little child. For those readers concerned readers, it's ok - I made it to the gym. Following a delicious protein shake and a shower, I dove right back in and immediately became captivated again. It's really hard to pinpoint the exact reasons why I like this book because, in reality, there are just so many. Over the course of the 100 some pages I read I found myself experiencing a myriad of emotions. I laughed out loud at times and had many "oh man, this is epic" moments. I'm extremely happy we chose to save the best for last, it was well worth the wait.

I can't sit here and sing the praises of the book without adding some commentary on some of the moments that really stood out to me. García Marquez starts the story off with a bang and immediately captivates the reader from the opening sentence. As was mentioned in class, the first line creates a veil of mystery and intrigue that begs the reader to search for answers. From the get-go we are introduced to Malquíades, a gypsy with mysterious powers and knowledge far beyond the borders of the land in which the novel is set. I'm not talking about mysterious powers like Brad Pitt as the "pikey" from Snatch, with his supernatural one punch knockout ability and superhuman alcohol tolerance; rather, I'm referring to gypsies of the magical variety. Malchíades is truly a badass gypsy. I mean really, this guy survived every plague and epidemic known to man at the time and kept on going. Despite being twisted and mangled from his travels and experiences, he somehow manages to miraculously grow a new set of teeth and return to a youthful version of himself. No big deal. This is the type of magical realism I've been waiting for - the seamless and innocuous juxtaposition of the magical in an everyday setting. Although the tales of Malchíades were firmly captivating, the element I appreciated the most while reading was undoubtedly the humor that runs through Marquez's prose. The boiling soup that skitters off the table after a comment from Jose's son was a good for a chuckle, but the details of how José Arcadio Buendía consummated his marriage was truly mirthful. I just can't help but get the ridiculous image of Jose bursting into the bedroom with a bloodied spear, throwing it to the ground and ordering his wife to take her pants off - pretty romantic if I do say so myself. The most striking feature of these "ridiculous" comedic moments is that they seem to downplay the reality of what, by all standards, should be considered "real" in this novel. There is a stark contrast that becomes apparent when the text is viewed in this respect. The so called "real" elements of the book are downplayed with comedic devices; meanwhile, the magical elements are written about with an air of seriousness and rigidity. In all respects, my first taste of this novel has been delicious.

Although Marquez' prose is known to be a difficult read, even for native speakers, I found that the pages went wizzing by, and surprisingly, I didn't feel completely lost. Granted, my vocabulary deficiencies are still are source of frustration at times, it was easy to keep trucking along and enjoy myself while doing the reading.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you're enjoying the book. (By the way, I'm not sure there is such a thing as a "delicious protein drink"!)

    Meanwhile, yes, Melquíades sure is a "badass gypsy." Though watch: his teeth are "merely" regular old false teeth; this is the other side of the "magical realism" equation," the everyday things that seem magical.

    And yes, it's important to note that this is also (among many other things) a comic novel.

    Anyhow, hope you continue to enjoy it!