I Was Never Very Good at Reading : Initial Reactions to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”

I Was Never Very Good at Reading : Initial Reactions to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”

I started reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, One Hundred Years of Solitude.  I just finished chapter 1.  I had attempted to read Marquez a couple times in the past: first when I was fresh out of high school, sitting on the dryer in the laundry room because we didn’t have an in-house washer and dryer.  I was reading Love in a Time of Cholera then.  I remember not liking it.  The other time I remember attempting to read Marquez was when I had taken my pursuit of becoming a writer to a more structured level; beyond the realm of dreams and aspirations, and into the substantive reality of refining my writing.  I was working at a Mexican restaurant off the Embarcadero then when I made the logical decision that if I were to become known as a great writer, not necessarily a best-seller or a popular writer, but a great writer, I was to study the greatest authors.  My plan was to study the greatest authors of each century.  I had found an article which made it quite easy to discern which authors were great by century.  My plan was to read at least one thing, anything, from five great authors that had created a ripple that stood historical in the world of literature.  

I started by reading Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Wilde for the 19th century, and when it came to the 20th century, Orwell and Fitzgerald.  Many literary names, I had already read and recognized such as Austen, Hemingway, and Salinger.  But, when it came down to Marquez, I could never get my bearings down.  He wrote in the same vein as Umberto Eco, assaulting his texts with academic vocabulary that exhausted my friendship with the dictionary along with severing my confidence.  Beyond the vocabulary, his texts were spoken in other languages that I didn’t know: a language of places I had never seen or heard of, diseases and symptoms that I needed to index, and chemical compounds that the extent of my public High School education must have overlooked.  Inside the San Francisco Ferry Building that sat along the Embarcadero, not far from the restaurant I used to work at, I sat in the corner of their small bookstore before work and between shifts.  Despite knowing that chapter 2 was less than twenty pages away, I always grew weak and tired reading Marquez, instantly becoming weary of reading about places I didn’t recognize and vocabulary which raced me back and forth to the dictionary until, finally, time would pass without me knowing and I would wake up in my chair, in the corner of the bookstore, with the first pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude also resting idly in my lap.  

I decided to pick up reading the book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, again.  Having traveled to foreign countries with a History degree that pressured me into reading exceptionally dense texts like Hobbes’s Leviathan, I noticed that my ability to read Marquez was different now than it was then.  I found myself moving across the text vigorously and making sense of every paragraph like it was second nature.  I found the themes of the first chapter to pique my interest: man’s interest in growing rich, feeding into everything that is new and exhilarating, discovery, travel, the unknown, invention.  As a young man navigating across a world where everyone seems to evade the depth of exploration when it comes to traveling and are more attached to their cameras than they are the scenery, I can’t help but anticipate that whatever story lies along of the rest of the pages of this book should be quite interesting.  

 

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