Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez (1981)
I read Chronicle immediately after One Hundred Years of Solitude, feeling strongly that I could read no one after García Márquez but García Márquez. As expected, the prose was beautiful–but the book didn’t capture my full emotional attention as OHYoS did. Maybe because Chronicle seems primarily concerned with narrative structure, retelling a story from its many perspectives. The scenes I found most emotionally powerful were those that might have fit into OHYoS. (See favorite lines, below.)
Even so, he’s still García Márquez, achieving an admirable hold on my emotions: at the very end, when the impending murder becomes one-on-one and physical, I still felt the Vicario brothers might not go through with it—though I knew from sentence one of page one that they would.
A master class in:
Perspective. Mining further and deeper story from characters and events that already exist. Dispensing information via a first-person narrator who is an observer, rather than a player, in the story’s action. (My professor Alice McDermott often uses an observer-narrator in her novels, as well.)
-“She became lucid, overbearing, mistress of her own free will…and she recognized no other authority than her own, nor any other service than that of her obsession.”
-“Bayardo San Roman took a step forward, unconcerned about the other astonished embroiderers, and laid his saddlebags on the sewing machine.
‘Well,’ he said, ‘here I am.’
He was carrying a suitcase with clothing in order to stay and another just like it with almost two thousand letters that she had written him. They were arranged by date in bundles tied with colored ribbons, and they were all unopened.”
-“Angela Vicario only dared hint at the inconvenience of a lack of love, but her mother demolished it with a single phrase:
‘Love can be learned too.’”
From GGM’s 1981 Paris Review interview:
On truth in fiction– “It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.”
On reading in translation- “My books have been translated into twenty-one languages and [Gregory] Rabassa is the only translator who has never asked for something to be clarified[…] I think that my work has been completely re-created in English. There are parts of the book which are very difficult to follow literally. The impression one gets is that the translator read the book and then rewrote it from his recollections. That’s why I have such admiration for translators. They are intuitive rather than intellectual.”