Too many Aurelios and Jose Arcadios

This novel has been in my book(graveyard)shelf for at least three years. It was a month when I felt I needed to start building my future library with a mix of classics and other books that interest me. The only other text I’ve read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” back in my undergrad days, and I’m sure the whole thing went over my head.

I’ve attempted reading One Hundred Years of Solitude two times in the last couple years, but I couldn’t get past the confusion that is the identical names of the father and the eldest son.

I get it. It’s a naming custom. But for almost every other page I had to backtrack to see which male descendant it is in the scene. Is it the first generation? The second? Which one of the twins? Is the father still alive?! I honestly thought he died. Oh, well I guess he’s dead now.

It took a while before I started enjoying the book. Having to jump from present to past to future, then back to the present was crazy confusing on top of the multiple male descendants of the same name. Pretty much any important male character is either Aurelio or Jose Arcadio.

There’s like 20 people in this family and they pass down the same 3 names like it’s part of their DNA. Sure, there’s probably only two to three alive at the same time, but I had to keep checking the family tree to remind myself whose son is whose, and which grandfather they are talking about.

The imagery and language of the novel is thoroughly enjoyable. I wish I could physically highlight the passages I love, but then the pages would look a lot like my old philosophy books.

The problem is, overall there is just so many things going on at the same time. It’s so convoluted that I find it difficult to latch on a storyline that I could care about.

One of the few times this novel got my full attention was when I was dumbfounded to realize goddamn Aureliano wants to bang a nine-year-old girl, when she’s got live seven older sisters he could have chosen from. Then his bastard son starts having sexual desires for Amaranta? And this woman entertains him? He’s your nephew! Wha-

I get it, this novel’s a classic, and we’re following the lives of the Buendia family… but there is no plot! It’s like things are just happening around them, and nothing’s changing… a lot like War and Peace, but at least Tolstoy allowed the characters to grow, and it shows how the war changed the naive and idealistic teens.

Surely I must be missing something if majority of the people who have read this novel think it’s one of the greatest novels of all time. That, or people saying it’s fantastic because everyone else says so… and so it goes.

Perhaps it would make more sense to me if I was Colombian… maybe that’s also where the disconnect happens. I really want to care more about this book. I want to finish it, but I don’t think this story is going anywhere…

Beautiful writing, inspiring imagination, convoluted plot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s