Tuesday, August 04, 2009

First impressions

40 pages is just the first two chapters, so there's not that much for me to talk about yet—not because García Márquez isn't doing much. Indeed, quite the contrary. I'm just not sure where things are going yet.

So far, however, I love that ice is "the great invention of our time." Last fall I saw the Ridley Scott film Kingdom of Heaven, which includes a scene (historically accurate) in which Saladin offers a cup of crushed ice to the captured leader of the Christian army he has just destroyed, Guy de Lusignan. It's a striking scene of organizational and technological superiority, reinforcing the fact that the Christian army has been defeated after a foolish march through the desert in which they were cut off from their supply chains. But more than that, it's like magic when Saladin produces ice, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. That scene gives me just a hint of José Arcadio Buendía's awe. (As a whole the movie is okay. Hokey in places, but not terrible.)

I'm also not ready to go too far in-depth yet, but I'm enjoying how García Márquez's narration really tweaks the sense of time. The simple way of describing it is that by jumping back and forth as he does, giving parts of an old story, and then returning to it later, all interspersed with whatever functions as the narrative "present," gives the sense that everything in the book has already happened and it's coming into being as we watch (read). I think it'll be interesting to track how that functions as I continue to read.

So, fellow readers, what's your favorite scene from the first 40 pages?


Tim said...

Go home and get a weapon, because I'm going to kill you.

Gavin said...

I'm going to vote for that line as "most in need of quotation marks when posted."

Once I realized that you weren't threatening me, I was able to return to my love for that scene. It gives us so much about José Arcadio Buendía, both in terms of a certain sense of honor—he warns the man, after all—and the way he remains literally haunted with guilt for the man's death.

Tim said...

I wasn't quoting anything. Just buying time to go get my spear.

A spear! Again, this is CADS's weird sense not just of narrative, but historical time. On the one hand, it's been about a century or so, maybe, since Sir Francis Drake attacked JAB and UB's home village. On the other hand, the world is so new, most things don't have names, so it's necessary to point. The man who kills another man, like Achilles, with a spear, can also calculate the circumference of the globe.

angela said...

I've been thinking about the "pointing," and I think it is a useful way to think of what Marquez is doing here. He isn't NAMING. He isn't TELLING. He is pointing. "This is Jose, this is his son, this is the gypsy, this is the magnet." The narrative is about pointing, not about naming. Also explains, I think, GMMs resistance to the phrase "magical realism." He isn't pointing to the strange events of this world (such as its inherent lack of linear time) to say, "Wow, that's odd. Must be magic." He's pointing to them because that's what any good journalist would do, and that's what he is, first and foremost.