Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Discovering Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I introduced myself to Gabriel Garcia Marquez during my visit to Crossword in December 2009. I got Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude to begin with.

Have read Love in... and must say that overall, I liked the book. More than the story, which I thought is marred by incidents of passion used as a stop-gap arrangement, I loved reading Garcia's description of places and people.

The chapters on the Paramaribo parrot and Fermina's varied pets are entertaining. That the parrot got excited seeing the pretty maids amused me no end. Dr. Juvenal Urbino's patient lessons to teach the bird Latin and French were also impressive, given my personal indulgence with all things animal. Marquez writes in a splendid style, extremely detailed and full of the darker sides of human character.

Talking about the storyline as such, I did not like Florentino Ariza's character, especially with the consequences of his last fling. It's a book you must read once, though not quite one that you can read again and again.*

I have really liked the novella Of Love and Other Demons. It makes for a quick reading with about 150 pages of power-packed writing. The preface, in which Marquez has explained how a reporting assignment in 1949 sowed the seed of this story, is extremely intriguing. Another fast read is a collection of stories titled Innocent Erendira and Other Stories, about 160 pages. I liked reading Innocent Erendira (the theme is presented as a short paragraph in One Hundred Years of Solitude) but somehow, Gabriel Garcia Marquez seems to end on a note of emotional cruelty each time.

The winner is Memories of My Melancholy Whores, one of the Nobel winner's most recent works. In one line, the story begins with a 90-year-old requisiting the services of a virgin. This adventure introduces him to something like love.

For the benefit of my readers, I quote some lines I found extremely poetic from this novel.

"Make no mistake: peaceful madmen are ahead of the future."

"Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love."

...Morality, too, is a question of time, she would say with a malevolent smile...

"Whenever someone asks I always answer the truth: whores left me no time to be married."

*Edited to add: I am reading much more of Marquez now, and admit that my mind goes back to Love in the Time of Cholera. Definitely something I would read again. April 12, 2010.

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So then, which are the new good books you have discovered?

15 comments:

Poonam said...

e quotes you have picked are gems. I have liked One hundred years of solitude as well. However, unlike you, I do not remember much about the characters.

One of the other books that I liked by Marquez is a memoir called 'A Colombian Kidnapping' (I might not even have mentioned the exact title). It was an eye-opener and narrated with sensitivity and details.

mesjay said...

Some time in the past i read a Marquez story and liked it, but just can't remember the title or the story! 'Love---cholera' title puts me off though i've looked at it in Crossword.

My recent reads are 'Shantaram', 'White Tiger' 'Q&A'(Slumdog millionaire) and a couple of Paulo Coelho. All okay for one time read. 'Kite Runner' is great but too painful for a re-read. Just finished re-reading 'To Sir with love', it's worth it.

Now i must try some of these you've named.

G said...

Palace of Illusions was the latest. Before that Jodi Picoult ruled for a while. :) some good thoughts are penned down in here books too. Will note them down when I re-read those books. :)

Supernova said...

Hi, I really enjoyed reading Marquez too. Especially 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. I found so much of it almost lyrical. Like the scene where this girl (sorry don't remember names of the characters) meets her lover in the bathroom that fills up with yellow butterflies. Or the one where the other-worldly girl floats up into the heavens amidst the fluttering of white sheets... Magic realism is what this literary genre is called I believe and I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. :)

hitch writer said...

I m sure you didnt mean to ask me which books did I pick up !!!!!! :P :P

Gulmohar said...

I can't agree with you more on Marquez..the king of magical surrealism :-) But I disagree with you on Florentino Arizo..I love love him..lol..and Personally I feel "100 years of solitude is his best novel ever :-)I was lucky enough to read most of his creations,since my hubby is a big fan of Marquez

And the book Poonam wanted to mention might be "news of a kidnapping"

Krutika said...

you are Xavier's alumni right? i stumbled into your blog at indiblogger...you used to write for Times too :)

YOSEE said...

Yes this book ( L at t.of Cholera) is fine, but the real Marquez is in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Amazingly rich in texture, sweeping scapes, intricate human drama. Absolute masterpiece .

Gauri Gharpure said...

Poonam: I was mid-way through One Hundred years of Solitude and so did not comment on this epic of a book.

Just finished yesterday and loved the magic that lingers on..

Gulmohar has helped me know the exact name of the book you are recommending (News of a Kidnapping) and I will buy it soon..

Mesjay: That's such an ingenious reason! :D even i did not get the book initially thinking it wud be a gloomy romance between a nurse and a soldier.

but Love in.. Cholera is quite different. If you can leave moral judgements aside, the story is very very entertaining.

Of the books you have mentioned, I have just read The Kiterunner and some of Coelho's old books.

Just finished reading My Father's Zoo by Esther David and will write about it on the blog soon.

G-- How have you been??? :) so good to see you here.. i just spent some time reading your new posts.. I am making a mental note of the authors you have mentioned for future reference.

Supernova: Welcome to my blog.

Now that I have finished One Hundred... Solitude, I know what you mean. When I read your comment, i had not yet come to the part of the bedsheets and butterflies. Magical, surreal and devilish sad the writing is. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing.

Suggest some other authors that I might be missing out on, now that our choices seem to match a bit. :) and drop in again!

Hitchwriter: ha ha ha! i don't mind your sharing stories of whatever u picked up on the way. :P

Gulmohar: I liked Ariza's character to begin with, but towards the end, I just thought of him as a selfish old lout given the status of a demigod by our passionate author. :) in spite of my reservations, as a story, each written word was lucid and egging me to read on and on with a fast pulse. tht's why i have come to love Marquez so much!

Thanks for pointing out the book tht Poonam was talking about. And yes, welcome to the blog and keep coming back.. :)

Krutika: Yes and Yes to both your observations. :)talking abt Xavier's, I can't get over the razing of the tekri opposite the canteen...

i have been to your blog and will read up in detail sometime soon..

Yose: Yes Yose, I agree.. Just finished reading One Hundred... and can wholeheartedly agree with all the appreciation people have showered on the book.

indianhomemaker said...

Lovely quotes!

I loved his 'Chronicle of a death foretold. This one's about two brothers requiring to kill the man who 'dishonored' their sister - identity revealed only when her rich husband left her at her parents' place upon finding out she wasn't a virgin, on their wedding night.

Loved that one.

Gauri Gharpure said...

Hi IHM,
Have got the book now, will read soon.

Sara said...

Hey Gauri,
I read Love in the time of Cholera and loved Marquez's writing but haven't read any more of his books..have to do it soon.
Another writer I've discovered is Isabel Allende.I really liked 'Daughter of Fortune', you might like it too!

doremi said...

I've been a huge fan of Marquez for years, and there's probably just two books of his I've not read yet.

'One hundred Years...' is definitely his masterpiece but my favourite has always been Chronicles of a Death Foretold.

doremi said...

BTW, his autobio Living to Tell the Tale is at times as good as his novels.

Gauri Gharpure said...

Sara-- I recently saw Isabel Allende's book and will pursue the author in future..

Doremi-- I am reading Living to Tell the Tale. Took up Chronicle of .. Foretold last night after so many recommendations here and the book did not allow me rest till it told its story. was a detailed, disturbing read and i am still thinking of Santiago Nazar..