Anyone on The Tin Drum or One Hundred Years of Solitude?
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What about One Hundred Years of Solitude? I don't think I've heard more great reviews from friends on a book and then disliked it so much before. I tried, tried, and tried again to get through it, sometimes a paragraph at a time. It's like a film strip played in a movie projector. You're in the town, you're in the past, you're in the mind of a character, all in one sentence!
Originality, great. Readability, terrible.
(I loved Cat and Mouse, by the way. Try that if you doubt Grass.)
I listen to BBC Radio 4, which broadcasts a soap opera called the Archers every evening. I never intentionally listen to it, so on the many occasions when I accidentally catch it, I have no idea what's going on - all I know is that it's set in a village in the middle of nowhere, and has a large cast of characters, none of them able to hold my interest. Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude reminded me of listening to the Archers.
I also hated Dictionary of the Khazars, and when I reviewed it for LT, one of the worst things I could think of to say about it was that it reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude...
I think that much of the dislike can be attributed to the main character, Oskar the dwarf. Essentially, he's insane, selfish, amoral and a thoroughly nasty piece of work. If one is not put off by the unreliabilty and unlikeability of the narrator, then one will be amply rewarded.
I also enjoyed Cat and Mouse (in which Oskar has a cameo) but was very disappointed by Dog Years, which I found to be overlong and bloated, although there are strong individual scenes.
I feel... not alone. Thank you.
PS. I am not without remorse. I was reminded, clicking through profiles, of The Da Vinci Code. Is this book so terrible that it makes classic bashing wrongheaded? What if it turns up in literature classes of the future because of its impact on society?
Okay, you'll have to fill me in. What WAS the impact on society of the DaVinci Code? I thought it just sold a bazillion books and was made into a mediocre movie. Was there an actual cultural impact? I've really tried to ignore it as much as I can, so I'm sure I've missed out.
13EkaterinaV Premier message
Da Vinci Code: No impact whatsoever other than the fact that we know people really like church conspiracy now.
I'm sure there are good excuses to include it in the study of our current era. Like studying Battlefield Earth. Which, by the way, ended up number 2 on that web poll of the best books of all time. You could then make a case that it should be read...
I loved A Hundred Years of Solitude, but then I loved Homer and Virgil (hey, and Joyce) too; apparently I have too much time to read. I'm thinking it depends on the type of reader you are - if you have all eternity to read, then Dante and Marquez certainly grow on you - and their vitues are cumulative. In the generation of instant gratification, they're too damned much work.
The Da Vinci Code seemed vaguely competent to me - a more satisfying end than most, but clearly inferior to many other (similar) titles
What do you mean, really, by having a lot of time to read? It seems you're implying that the enjoyment of the book depends on how many other books you've read. Or maybe, as you say, your "type." You can't just say the emperor has clothes. Give us some meat! Why did you like it so much?
The Emperor's New Clothes: short, succinct, perfect for those with busy lives.
I also loved A Hundred Years of Solitude even though I wouldn't have considered myself a fan of magic realism. Love in the Time of Cholera is also amazing. These books were so descriptive that I felt I was living the stories along with the characters. I could hear what they were hearing and smell what they were smelling. I have highly recommended both of these books to friends and family.
Now-The Da Vinci Code is another story. I put off reading it forever but finally had to see what all uproar was about. What a waste of time!
I see #15's point, if I had more time I would read more, quantity and quality -- not that I fill my precious reading time with crappy books, but I could study and appreciate works such as Dante or Joyce... it's a busy world, gotta budget time and resources...
I think TeacherDad may be right though: to read many of the books I have found most satisfying - my desert island books - with an expectation of linear and sequential development would be all but suicidal. Ullyses, for example, pretentiously placed at the top of my imaginary Desert Island List, is (though sequential) bewildering if read for sequence and for 'plot'. If read for effect or for labrynthine journeys through the human psyche then it can mesmerize and reward.
The Tin Drum was an amazing piece of writing--I was so caught up in the rhythms at a certain point that I could feel the "drumbeat" in one scene. That said, I have to admit I didn't finish the book--oops. I don't quite remember why unless it got to be too much of a sameness or i had another deadline looming that dragged me away. Part of the fascination was tracking the foundational pieces of A Prayer for Owen Meany, which John Irving wrote in part in tribute to the Tin Drum.
I'm afraid I loved 100 Years of Solitude too, even more than Love in the Time of Cholera. I agree with the notion of just letting myself go with the flow and enjoying the ride. The magic and humor, the sheer ridiculousness, pleased me immensely; I probably grinned my way through huge chunks of the book and loved each new image and discovery.
Part of the benefit may have come from reading these on my own, with no class or discussion looming and the option of quitting at any time.
I can certainly understand folks who really couldn't stand either book, but I'm sure glad that wasn't my experience. Thanks for the discussion.
22extrajoker Premier message
I also remember getting into an argument with most of my classmates, who hated the uppity woman with the gold chamberpot but didn't seem to mind the one having sex with her nephew in closets. Go figure.
I may attempt Love in the Time of Cholera sometime too sometime.
I liked The Tin Drum; I patted myself heartily on my back when I finished it. It was a totally different flavor of literature than I was accustomed to reading, but palatable nevertheless. It also helped me to start thinking, and being curious, about "international" literature; how books can pinpoint a different worldview, at a particular time in history, in a way that nothing else can. Reading Gunter Grass solidified for me the reality that people from different places carry the potential to fundamentally view the world differently from me. This realization has profoundly affected every area of my life.
And, for some strange reason, as I read these posts, I can't stop thinking about eels.
Just yesterday I gave up, again, on One Hundred Years of Solitude. I feel SO obligated to read and love this book because my son read it in college, loved it, and loaned me his copy. It was interesting for a while, but then it was all the same. The beginning of the end was when I accidentally dropped it and the book thong fell out - and I couldn't find where I had left off. I couldn't tell the parts I'd read from the parts I hadn't. I believe I'm about 3/4 of the way through. I've given myself permission now to put it aside and perhaps try again during another phase of my life. My tbr pile is too big to wrestle with a book I am not completely in love with.
I think it's important, though, that my first taste of Marquez came at school; Nobody Writes to the Colonel was one of my set texts for A-level Spanish over 15 years ago, and my teacher was a Marquez fan who was determined to pass on her enthusiasm. Her painstaking efforts to ensure that we understood not just the words but the narrative devices are still paying off, at least in my case. On reading Marquez now, I sometimes find myself laughing out loud in admiration of something that I really think I would have missed if it hadn't been for that teacher - and I like to think that I'm intelligent, well-read and well-educated. I'm not sure I would have got so much enjoyment out of Marquez's work if I'd had to come at it without her crash course.
Then there's the point about translations made by littlegeek some way up this thread. I'm lucky enough to be able to read the original, but as a translator myself, I'm only too aware of how much difference the translator can make. I haven't checked this, but I do remember hearing years ago that there were 2 English translations of One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of which was infinitely more readable than the other.
I put down "The Tin Drum" after 50 pages or so; never picked it up again, and never will. Of the film, which I saw after giving up on the book, all I remember is the image of the horse's head full of eels.
I don't think I like magical realism, although I don't think I have read too many other magical realism novel besides One Hundred Years.
I do, however, have several scenes with imagery that I liked in the novel: Rebeca eating mouthful after mouthful of dirt and chipping her teeth on snail shells. The death of Jose Arcadio with the blood stream that flows to Ursula, and the gunpowder smell in his body that won't go away. The ash crosses marked indelibly on the foreheads of the 17 Aurelianos. These are descriptions which stuck with me long after I finished reading the novel.
Especially chipping teeth on snail shells...OUCH!
The Tin Drum has been sitting on my TBR pile for an embarrassing number of years. This discussion though has moved it up the list. The great thing about this is that I will feel absolutely free to throw the book aside if I don't like.
I was handed The DaVinci Code by a retired teacher with good taste in books, so I took it on an airplane. This book is the worst kind of junk. It is little more than one extended chase scene without enough characters to even wonder who the villain is. A great mystery book can also be a great book, but this is neither.
I have to defend One Hundred Years of Solitude, but understand if there are readers out there who just don't like magical realism. To me, it's a very rich and poetical way to tell an epic story where history moves in repeated cycles.
#4 varielle: did you ever read The Tin Drum.
I like the idea of magical realism -- maybe it's just the execution I don't like. Perhaps there's another I could try?
Can't say whether I really dislike the book--it's not horrible or anything, I can appreciate it's literary value. But, it's definitely not one of my personal favorites. Since I started it and am almost halfway through, I figure I might as well take it to the finish line.
I have read One Hundred Years of Solitude, mostly because I was in a book club that was reading it. I haven't read The Tin Drum but saw the movie, which is good but depressing.
One Hundred Years was good enough, though I don't remember too much of it. The main thing that stuck with me about it is that it seemed that the female characters suffered for their mistakes but the males got pass after pass.
There seems to be one really off-putting thing in each Gabriel Garcia Marquez book I have read. In Love in the Time of Cholera, it was the charcter's relationship with an underrage girl. Made me queasy. So I am not a huge fan.
I have not read the Tin Drum, but I found the movie very thought-provoking, so may try to read it sometime.
Books that other people raved about that I hated - Well, obviously Dan Brown has already been brought up here...
Oh, yes, and how hard I tried to like Durrell - I read the entire Alexandria Quartet (a present from my father) and the most I can say is that I ended up thinking they were OK, though I really disliked the first book, Justine. It seems so full of over-my-head literary references (and usually i enjoy this, but Durrell manages to make me feel like an undereducated dunce) and the characters are so into navel-gazing.
I didn't like One Hundred Years the first time I read it. I liked it a bit more the second time. There are some great scenes that are bizarre and beautiful within the novel, but on the whole, I still don't like it much.
Couple of Garcia Marquez books I have read have not been magical realism, more like the dull-and-dusty realism which I didn't find particularly engaging. I might give those other books a go, though I am not particularly fond of poetry...
And I'll go away.
I didn't mind The Tin Drum.
The Davinci Code was awful. But the movie version was much better than the movie version of Angels and Demons-- I couldn't even finish the movie, it was that bad!
I felt the same way about the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I kept thinking throughout both books that I was missing something somewhere and to this day I still can't figure out what! Maybe I'll try them both again someday and enjoy them more but I doubt it.
I read all three Robert Langdon books so I can't say that I didn't enjoy them but I think I enjoyed picking apart the history and trying to solve the puzzles more than I did the actual stories. On that note, I felt like I was reading the same story three times in a row in different settings, anyone else feel that way?
Back on #25, LOL! I remember my mother mooched an eel off a fisherman and cooked it up, and ate it with gusto. I didn't touch it then, and certainly wouldn't touch'em now!
Of course he is. If you're responding to my comment, I was just saying that the magical realism shouldn't be the reason to not read that book. There's a lot more to it. A lot of people are scared of magic realism and don't need to be.