I am a little more than one-fourth of the way through One Hundred Years of Solitude and the savagery of Gabriel García Márquez forces me to stop dead in my reading tracks. It is raining corpses in Macondo, the town which, until recently, has never seen a death. Either by the cruelty of fate or by the brutality of revolutionaries or by the bitterness of unrequited love, men are dying all of a sudden. (I am not being specific about this for fear of spoiling the novel. I do not dare to disclose anything beyond what can be readily inferred from the jacket of the book.)
It is difficult to continue reading casually beyond a death or a renewed bout of military or carnal brutality narrated with a strange amalgam of glee and anger, and I take frequent breathers. In some of these enforced breaks, I am browsing for information about García Márquez: his Nobel Prize lecture throws up a possible justification for the shocking and brutal style of One Hundred Years of Solitude. García Márquez was speaking about Latin America and its problems with civil wars and military coups :
A reality not of paper, but one that lives within us and determines each instant of our countless daily deaths, and that nourishes a source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable. This, my friends, is the crux of our solitude.
The book, when I finally finish it, is going to be notoriously difficult to explain, even to myself.