Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Oh my. A paragon of magical realism and my second favorite author. Rest in peace.

Liking storytelling alone is sometimes not enough to like Marquez, you have to love language too. He uses (some might say abuses) language to impact his storytelling, often using incredibly long, convoluted sentences to weave his narrative. It can be hard to follow, sometimes intentionally, but I find it enormously satisfying to read and follow along with his brain. Like slowly drinking a maple syrup of words.

One of the best examples is the first 15 or so[1] pages of Autumn of the Patriarch[2], where the narrator winds this thread of what has happened slowly, using sentences that span pages, until you realize a shift from what has happened to a sort of what is about to happen. Then a fist slams on the table and the realization strikes you that the first part of the description was a kind of set up, this beautiful ruse. I wish I could be more descriptive but it would give away the delight. It's a great book about terror and despotism.

Marquez is not the kind of thing you can read in a noisy environment. At least I can't. I adore him so much. I could write a eulogy for days.

If you've never read him, please take a moment to read one of my favorite short stories, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

http://simonsarris.com/lit/a-very-old-man-with-enormous-wing...

(I've hosted a copy of it (and many more short stories) for ages because most of the copies on the web are plagued with ads and miserable formatting)

If One Hundred Years of Solitude seems too long for you, I urge you to look into some of his very excellent shorter books, such as Autumn but also Of Love and Other Demons[3] and Love in the Time of Cholera.[4]

(Chronicle of a Death Foretold is even shorter, but I do not recommend it as the first Marquez book you read!)

[1] It could be the first 10 or 30 pages, it's been several years, but I am certain it's one of the better (and shorter) examples of his style.

[2] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060882867

[3] http://www.amazon.com/dp/1400034922

[4] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0307389731




Go on so. I'll bite. First favourite author? (If we can even rate and rank so crudely.)


I sorta regret writing that in retrospect because its a somewhat reply-bait thing to write.

But I was thinking of Bohumil Hrabal as my most dear author.

In some respects they are very different, in that Hrabal doesn't quite have the same magical realism bent. But in their writing itself, in their structure, they are often similar: Hrabal also favors extremely long sentences. Hrabal's book Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is actually just one long run-on sentence that spans 160 pages. Even when Hrabal's sentences are not long, his paragraph breaks are few. It drives some people mad, but I think if you can follow along, it is an immense pleasure to read.

Both of them adore language:

> "Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing through the veins to the root of each blood vessel."

An example of those beautiful sentences: https://gist.github.com/simonsarris/11014861 (made a gist so I stop polluting comment-space so much)

That's from Too Loud a Solitude by Hrabal, a short book, probably the most beautiful pamphlet I have ever read.


It is so strange that people can have such varied responses to language. By the time my eyes alighted on the period/full-stop after "kilo" I was experiencing a significant amount of anxiety. Which is not to say that I did not enjoy the prose, because once I reached the period I did enjoy the writing. But I do not know if I could enjoy reading a book that contained a lot of marathon sentences.


Speed reading has recently been a thing here on HN, and I think these passages beautifully illustrate the shortcomings of those techniques. I've always been a very fast reader, and it was quite difficult for me to figure out how to appreciate this kind of literature.

I can easily absorb information from man pages, and get a lot of enjoyment out of more intellectual fiction like what Charlie Stross or Alastair Reynolds write, but it's a whole different skill-set to read and enjoy writing like this. Marquez' style really requires you to turn off large parts of your information-processing brain, and just listen to the narration like it was someone else reading a story to you.


Thoughtful response. An unknown to me. Thanks. Will start digging.


Any particular recommendations what to read for someone unfamiliar with Bohumil Hrabal? I just realized I've seen a film based on one of his novels of the same title, 'Closely Watched Trains' (a great film, by the way.)

Interested in any suggestions whatsoever.


Lovely story! I'm guessing you hand-transcribed it because I noticed some typos:

"took away and sense of grandeur"

"as if weren’t a supernatural creature"

"determining the different"

"a poor woman who since childhood has been counting her heartbeats" ["has" might be intentional, but it also might have been "had"]

"a her taking his ease" ["hero"???]

"finding out in the prisoner had a navel"

"rent the sky in tow" ["two", I'd guess]

"have up his job"

"he’d be duplicated" ["been", probably]



Which was the short story with the sadistic dentist torturing the mayor?


You're recalling One of These Days

http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/ootdays.html

(Slightly sad to see his life written as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928-____ ) on the page. Today we know the answer to the blank.)


"Es la misma vaina."


The mayor was the sadist. The dentist practiced regular dentistry for the time.


I'll always love Autumn. I usually keep a small pile of "guiding light" books around, and Autumn has been in there ever since I first read it ~7 years ago. I use them kind of like reference manuals for the craft, kind of like how we might look through the docs off and on as we code. One of my most cherished book piles.


Similar genre to Rushdie, how might you contrast their styles?


This has got to be one of the most impossible to translate Spanish writing authors ever.


By the end of the first page of Love in the Time of Cholera I was already wondering how amazing the book must be in its original Spanish and how much could be lost in translation.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made me decide to improve my Spanish so I could read it in the orginal language. Still haven't yet :-(


Gregory Rabassa does a phenomenal job with the translation.

My spanish is decent enough to have read a few of Marquez's books in the original language, but not good enough to appreciate them as much as I did in English.

I'd recommend starting with "El Colonel que no Tiene que Escribe". It was used in my AP Spanish class in high school and is short enough so you don't get frustrated with the slow going of reading in a new language.


I didn't mean to sound snob though sorry if it came through like that, I would definitely recommend to read them either in Spanish or English, however you can enjoy them the most. It's just that you'll have to accept that some thing just get lost in translation, I mean, even if your mother tongue is Spanish, you'll miss things.


> Rest in peace.

I, on the other hand, hope that the three men that Marquez's close friend Castro had executed for trying to get to the US on a boat will rest in peace. Not to mention all the dissidents who died in his prisons.

Marquez lived in Cuba and for decades witnessed the daily suffering and poverty of the Cuban people. The endless monitoring of Castro's secret police. The constant rationing of basic necessities (though not for Castro or Marquez, who lived lives of luxury).

He was a master of writing about the lives of the people of Latin America. But he walked the streets of Havana, saw what anyone could see, and never wrote about any of that. Perhaps he was too busy sharing a fine repast with Fidel and Raul to get around to it.


I have no love for Castro (maybe some contempt), but I think Marquez here is approximately as culpable as Shostakovich, which is to say not. He was a writer, not a reporter, and if we try to pull an artist down to the level of politics it's a lose-lose if we're successful.


On one hand, I largely agree with you, about the utility of holding someone responsible for what they didn't do, which would have been at great personal cost.

On the other hand, I believe Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would like to have a word with you. Out back, in the alley.


Marquez pointed out that he was able to assist some political prisoners but he knew that with Castro he could only go so far.


Seeing your comment downvoted just shows this cliched simpathy for the left that was a fad in the 60's and 70's for anyone who wanted to be perceived as an intellectual (sure it worked to get chix by then); its still kicking and alive it seems. By that time you could sell a scam that steals a nation resources as love for the poor.

But today after we know what happened in Cambodia, Ethiopia, North Korea - to cite a few - under comunist regimes; being a simpathizer of communism just can evidence either ignorance, lack of empathy and sensibility or attachment to an old hungover hipster fad.

That said, I enjoyed reading cien años de soledad but I also know that Macondo would be no better under communist rule.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: