Monday, January 19, 2015

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude stands as the most heartbreaking novel I have ever read.  The emotional torture emerging page after page was nearly unbearable, yet it was grounded in such an admirable premise that I couldn't stop reading.  So, I pretty much understood the intensity I was in for upon deciding to pick up another work by this Pulitzer Prize winner.

Again, Marquez got me with his masterful storytelling.  But more than that, this story is filled with truisms about human nature that lead to confusing contradictions we cannot control.  The book opens on the morning of Santiago Nasar's death.  Santiago does not know he is about to be murdered, but most people in the village know.  He goes about his day interacting with individuals, none of whom share with him the fact that the Vicario twins have announced repeatedly that they will murder Santiago that day.

It seems that Santiago disgraced their sister, and when her newlywed husband discovers the deception on their wedding night less than 12 hours earlier, he deposits her back with her family.  The Vicario brothers decide then and there that they must defend their family's honor and destroy that which has destroyed them.  They really don't want to do it, but they see the murder as an obligation.  

The brothers tell everyone in their path about the plan.  They openly go to a butcher shop to sharpen the knives they will use in the attack.  The confess to anyone who will listen, and after the fact, the go to church and confess to a priest.  Throughout the day, it is obvious they are hoping someone will stop them or at least, that someone will warn Santiago.  No one does.  Everyone in the little village has a different reason why they kept silent. When questioned, no one can even agree up simple things like what the weather was like that day, let alone how much they know, who told them and why.   Each person's reason for not speaking up is simple and to a degree acceptable in its own rite - and yet, each person's silence contributed to a death.  

Lots of symbolism.  Lots of sentences and paragraphs and lines to be read and re-read.  Lots to think about in this short, lyrical one-hundred-twenty page novel.  This is one to sink your teeth into.  Sometimes I need a "sinker" as a follow up to a lighter, Lifetime movie type novel.  This fit the bill.

How's the Hemingway project going?  Not so good.  In fact, it's almost as unsuccessful as 2014's write-a-haiku-a-day plan.  I will persevere.

What's next?  Not sure.  I might just close my eyes and pull a book randomly from my reading pile.  Of course, the last time that happened, I grabbed The Valley of the Dolls and then stupidly went on to suggest it to our book discussion group.)  Maybe I should edit the pile first.

Thanks for stopping by.