Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thoughts Concerning Love in the Time of Cholera

I was about 20 pages into this novel before I decided it was at least worth finishing; it was another 50 before I was interested in what was happening; and even by the end, I wasn't entirely buying any of the characters (I was apathetic towards most of them, at best) — and occasionally the story would lose me for a paragraph or two before it pulled me back in.

And yet: at some point, I was hooked. Even with all of those aspects I didn't care for in Love in the Time of Cholera (trans. 1988), there's no mistaking the end result: a beautifully crafted novel that explores all types of love (familial, platonic, physical, emotional, young, mature, etc.) over the course of more than half a century (from the last 1800s thru the 1930s).

And with love — time, death, and aging are also central motifs, all of which are occasionally described in such intriguing language that I can't help but wish I knew Spanish so that I could read the book in its original dialect (author Gabriel Garcia Marquez is Colombian).

But then again: at other points, I was rolling my eyes at the melodrama and wondering if people like that really ever existed — even on some unnamed Caribbean island at the turn of the century (about which I know next to nothing).

The emotion behind the actions and words, however, remains timeless — and so propels the suspense that kept me wondering if the man (Florentino Ariza) and the woman (Fermina Daza) at the novel's center would ever even talk to one another (never mind, engage in a relationship of any sort).

Marquez stitches the pages together by traveling back and forth through decades, exploring the perspectives of various characters on multiple occasions, thereby creating one cohesive storyline by the final page.

Overall: definitely worth the read. And, yeah, contrary to what I told people 50 pages in... I probably will try 100 Years of Solitude (perhaps Marquez's best-known work) one of these days.


Eli said...

Yeah, I can't read his stuff, too many adjectives, or something...

Jonas said...

I loved Love in the Time of Cholera. I truly did.

I never could finish 100 Years of Solitude. I couldn't keep the names straight.

But...hey...that's just me.

I'm a dweeb.

By the by, Bill Clinton cites 100 his favorite novel. Go figure.

michele said...

Unlike jonas, I loved 100 Years of Solitude. I read it first, then Love in the Time and found 100 Years an easier read, even though I was struggling with getting used to Marquez's writing with 100 Years and with Love in the Time, I knew what I was getting into.

But Love in the Time does take a long time to get into, whereas 100 Years hooked me earlier, so maybe that's why it felt easier...

bookfraud said...

"love in the time of cholera" is brilliant, but "one hundred years of solitude" is genius. there's nothing like it, ever.

admittedly, it took me 50 pages and three tries to get into "solitude," but once i finally got into the flow of it, i was hooked. one of the best novels ever written (and in translation, no less). don't listen to the naysayers.