Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Seven years of rain

This counts as fantasy
My father is a slow reader. Reading Gabriel García Márquez's masterpiece was a project for him - several years of careful, deep reading that never became difficult. Ask him for his favorite book, he answers comfortably: Cien años de soledad.

Why, you may ask, is such a book in a list of fantasy literature? Readers unused to García's writing style may think this is simply due to the idea "magical realism", often tossed around when García's name is mentioned. It's not a wrong phrasing, but truth be told: One Hundred Years of Solitude is fantasy. And wonderful fantasy at that. Things happen in a strange and mysterious way, all without a single logical explanation from the author.

A few weekends ago, the subject came up. My father mentioned that one aspect he loved so much about the book was that:
It could appear to be completely normal and everything would be entirely realistic and all of a sudden something happens that doesn't make any sense.
"Like seven years of rain," I mentioned. Yes, now he remembered. Seven straight, completely acceptable years of rain. Or a character living forever. Or the wonderful ending.

This is not a man who likes fantasy. Not fantasy as it's typically perceived, at least. Almost every reader I've encountered who has read One Hundred Years of Solitude would probably balk at the idea of putting it on a list of fantasy greats, but I call it as it is.

If I mentioned in my definition of fantasy that Lord of the Rings is fantastic without being magical, here is a book that is entirely magical and entirely fantastic, perhaps without being pure fantasy. Much as my father said: things just happen. And as they happen, it makes sense. Except for how it absolutely doesn't. It's this fantastic quality to the storytelling. Pure magic.


  1. I am glad you like this. I have yet to read GGM hope to start with The Love in the Time of Cholera and then move on to this. Hoping for a magical experience!

  2. Today I read a writeup of a book that was compared to OHYoS...and it gave me pause. Not sure if I am up to

  3. Agree, agree, agree - "This counts as fantasy."

    The "magical realism" has perhaps obscured more than it has illuminated.


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