Yeah, more reduxing.
What I admired about Marquez’s novel was his ability to construct a perfect and singular moment in the lives of his characters which would then be summarized by devastatingly original and poignant line of dialogue. Numerous examples come to mind, where a situation would develope, would twist and change and mature and come to a crisis, and then a character would either think or utter a line which would perfectly sum and cap the experience. I remember laughing over a few of them, amused and impressed and delighted by how easily and perfectly he pulled this trick off. Trick? Move, perhaps.
Beyond that, I was incredibly impressed by his ability to create a continuum across which he shuttled back and forth, sampling the lives of his characters and describing and showing how they grew, how they matured and blossomed and lived. Three main characters, each linked to the other, each living their lives as they see best, each revealed to the reader in a seamless, episodic nature that built off each other and resulted in a continuous and seemingly effortless narrative. The actions of the elder Fermina Daza become all the more poignant when we consider her actions as a dark teen; Urbino’s aspirations and dedication are contextualized by his aging and the man he becomes. It becomes a sweeping whole, a wonderful and loving examination of people coming to terms with life, with death, and with love.
Not that the novel was perfect. I was highly disturbed by Florentino’s pedophillic affair with America. The lines where he encourages her to kiss his dickey-bird as he undresses her unnerved me. I understand what Marquez was trying to express: that love knows no boundries, not even those of extreme age, but I didn’t buy it. When America commits her final act that expresses her sense of betrayal, I didn’t read it as perhaps I was meant to, as a demonstration that even the very young can be ravaged by the loss of love, but rather as the unnatural reaction of someone who was exposed and perhaps even abused by an older man and then discarded. A very jarring note in this otherwise pleasant and wistful book.
Furthermore, I found the ending trite. Poetic, perhaps, but trite. It was as if Marquez had worked hard at the body of the book, composing his symphony of love, and known roughly how it would all go up till the last five pages, and then, with a sudden flourish, seized by inspiration, he dashed off the ending, pleased with how neat it was, and threw down his pen. Except it came across as overly facile. I could construct a defense for it, talk about how their love had become too great for the real world, and that they now had to exist outside of it or what have you, but I was not impressed. It’s become a tinted lens through which I now must view the whole novel, and as a result it lessens the overall impact.
However, despite these short falls, I still found this novel a wonderful and enrapturing read. Lush, sensual, detailed and imaginative, it was filled with a wonderful wisdom that made me feel as if I were in the presence of an experienced and kindly uncle. Brilliant in scope, masterful in execution, and wise and amusing both.
Minus that creepy perverted bit.
Love in the Time of Cholera: Pretty impressive, though with serious flaws.