Sunday, March 2

Overrated? notes that a copy of the first US edition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude goes for a minimum of $500. Solitude also consistently appears in every must-read list of books. When I get visitors in my office, they instantly check my shelves and get disappointed not to find a copy there. Solitude is also almost single-handedly credited for turning on the spotlight on Latin American literature, or particularly creating the brand of Latin Am. lit known as "Magic Realism."

However, Jonathan Bate of the Sunday Telegraph notes that Solitude may as well be one of the most overrated books ever:
The book is so in love with its own cleverness that it is profoundly unreadable. It is generally credited with inaugurating the genre of "magic realism" novels which combine the matter-of-fact narrative style of conventional realistic fiction with fantastic nonsense such as levitation and alchemy. García Márquez is at his most characteristic when a woman ascends to heaven whilst hanging her washing out on the line. Other ingredients of magic realism include gypsies, tarts with hearts, dwarves, tricksters and a cast so large and confusing that you need a family tree to keep track of the plot. Márquez and his followers are sophisticated urban intellectuals who feign reverence for the simple wisdom of peasants. Myth, fairytale and folklore are wonderful things in themselves, but it is preposterous to imagine that mingling them with domestic mundanity will somehow puncture the bourgeois complacency of our time.
He goes on to tell the readers that Solitude opened the territory for Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter and the intentionally epic-scale storytelling that they are noted for.

So is Solitude really overrated?

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