(from barnes and noble)
The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions. First they brought the magnet. A heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquíades, put on a bold public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the learned alchemists of Macedonia. He went from house to house dragging two metal ingots and everybody was amazed to see pots, pans, tongs, and braziers tumble down from their places and beams creak from the desperation of nails and screws trying to emerge, and even objects that had been lost for a long time appeared from where they had been searched for most and went dragging along in turbulent confusion behind Melquíades' magical irons. "Things have a life of their own," the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. "It's simply a matter of waking up their souls."
There are books and then there is 100 years of solitude. From the first word the density of the book hits you. Not in terms of complexity or obscurity, but sheer brilliance of characters, life, past, present, reality, dreams. And once you are caught it is difficult to let go. The story of a town from the stand point of the Buendia family over 7 generations. And what dramatic lives and stories of them. The moment you want to settle down in Macondo and relish its mirrors, the book zaps you with something so bizarre, that you feel embarrassed to not have expected it. Its not normal (And I say this in a totally positive sense). There are so many overlapping characters *with the same names* that at one point I took my time and drew a family tree! Rewards of being an obsessive reader. I can at least say I actually know the various generations of the Buendias!!
As I have said earlier, Gabo's books are not worth blabbering about. They have to be read. To feel them. And this one unlike any other transports you to a different time full of controversial reality and scandalous people, who if not anything have led rich lives. Full of passion and myriad experiences.
This is my second review on ALOP and not surprisingly its a Gabo review. I loved the way he multithreads various themes and brings them alive. Also the span of the book captivated me in a really weird manner. It was like being witness to a lot of history.
And even though I liked the book, somehow my first gabo read, 'love in the time of cholera' will remain more closer to my heart.
P.S. I have not written much on the plot and characters, because its really tough to stream line my thoughts after the first reading. These are mere observations. May be after a good 2-3 more reads I will be able to do so.