I’m just going to come straight out and I say I loathed this book. With such accolades as a Nobel Prize and part of Oprah’s Book Club, I expected something…that wasn’t this. It’s hard to articulate my opinion of the book because the book is so nebulous.
The book is about the Buendia family and their town, Maconda. The patriarch, Jose Acadio Buendia, kills a man and leaves his hometown with his wife and their close friends and family. They trample through the Colombian jungle and eventually settle in a city they call Maconda. The story follows that family as their actions impact the town. That’s the extent of the plot.
The book relies heavily on context; I found out later that the book is part allegorical and Maconda can be seen as Columbia itself during its political upheavals. Without extensive knowledge of the history of Columbia, many of the themes went right over my head. Another cultural tradition, naming generations after their ancestors, left me constantly flipping pages trying to figure out which Aureliano or Jose Arcadio was still alive and doing things.
There were some that were blatant enough for me to latch onto. A frequent theme is the notion of history repeating itself. The generations of Buendias continue the same mistakes of their ancestors, thereby condemning Maconda to its eventually demise. Paradoxically, Maconda needs the Buendias to survive. The town thrives when the Buendias thrive. The founding family and the town are locked into a symbiotic relationship. Which brings me to the next theme, solitude and isolation. The family insulates themselves so much that they never see how much the effect the town. This isn’t a place that grows lead characters; although the books isn’t meta aware, the townspeople seem to know that the main characters are the Buendias. The fatalism that surrounds the town bleeds through the pages. It’s really not a book to read if you are looking for something uplifting.
P.S. I apologize where accent marks are missing; my keyboard doesn’t seem to know the codes for it.