Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Meeting of January 25, 2016

Betty hosted our first book club evening of 2016 at Colette’s house. Janet, Shirley, Carla, Beth, Jolene, Colette, and Betty were in attendance, with Michèle joining us via Skype. Betty served wonderful cheeses and salty/sweet snacks, along with some yummy cinnamon buns and cookies for dessert. We also announced the winner of our favourite club read of 2015—Jane’s choice of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

The book under discussion this month was 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Janet chose the book because it is considered a classic in Central and South America, written by an author who won the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature. This was Señor Marquez’s most famous novel. As a pioneer of magic realism, he wrote stories that incorporated natural and supernatural elements seamlessly, using a technique he learned as a child from his grandmother. Janet explained that 100 Years of Solitude tells the entire history of Colombia through the eyes of a dysfunctional family living in the dead-end town of Macondo. The novel’s themes of solitude, war, and violence are common to Latin American culture. The circular, rather than linear, view of time is also obvious, where history recurs over several generations, names are repeated (Aureliano some 21 times), and cultures rise and fall.

Few in the group enjoyed the book. Most found reading it hard work, with the characters unsympathetic and hard to relate to from our North American viewpoint. Some pointed out that they were able to read and analyze the novel at an earlier period in their life with much less difficulty. We did feel that the group discussion was worthwhile, however. All agreed that it is important for us to read literature that stretches us and makes us look at the world from a different cultural viewpoint from time to time; that being said, no one feels the need to re-read this novel any time soon.

To read about Magic Realism in Yann Martel's new book, click here. The High Mountains of Portugal


  1. it is a difficult book to read and in my opinion, easier to read if you are young and idealistic. There is so much symbolism in the story, the seven cardinal sins, the eventual downfall of all empires as represented by the degenerative actions of each of the seven generations of the Buendia Family until at the end the village and everyone crumbles and dies.

  2. Isn't it funny how when you are introduced to a new term (in my case, "magic realism"), you tend to hear it regularly over the next little while? I was watching author Yann Martel of Life of Pi fame being interviewed yesterday on TV. He was promoting his new book The High Mountains of Portugal. He and the interviewer discussed "magic realism." Learning about this genre alone was worth being exposed to your book, Janet, so thank you. For more insights, you might check out . Jolene

  3. In one of my classes on the American political system, the professor showed us how divided and angry people are in America right now. Each faction wants to hang on to the power they have and no one is willing to compromise or negotiate. The illicit deals, the dark money and the lies that are told from each camp shows how much American society has degenerated.

    Magic realism can be imaginative and wonderful but as we saw in One Hundred Years of Solitude the wonder of the magic doesn't last.

    We almost all hated this book but it is certainly making us think!

  4. It was a great discussion; sometimes we have to work harder to articulate why we are dissatisfied or unhappy with a book. Last night I remembered something I meant to say: the book reminded me a little of Dickens in its sheer creativity, vivid setting and huge cast of often eccentric and lurid characters. Otherwise, of course, they are very different in subject and style. Beth


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