Anyone on The Tin Drum or One Hundred Years of Solitude?

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Anyone on The Tin Drum or One Hundred Years of Solitude?

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Nov 20, 2007, 9:45am

Reading these posts makes me think there are "types" of classics haters. Some mentioned I love like Faulkner, Joyce, and in particular The Old Man and the Sea. And sometimes it's such a relief to find a like-minded "thrower" like those against The Tin Drum.

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.)

Nov 22, 2007, 9:30pm

I think I read the first 20 pages of "The Tin Drum" at least a dozen times before giving up and renting the movie. The movie was slightly easier to get through...

Modifié : Nov 23, 2007, 10:04am

Nov 23, 2007, 10:10am

This is discouraging. I was about to take The Tin Drum on a 4 hour plane flight.

Nov 23, 2007, 12:35pm

Oh yes, I've tried twice to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and both times failed to advance more than a couple of dozen pages.

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.

Nov 23, 2007, 12:44pm

I fought my way through One Hundred Years of Solitude. I think I could have coped with a couple of decades. Eventually I lost the will to read, and just turned the pages mechanically, running my eyes down each page.
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...

Nov 23, 2007, 1:37pm

#4 I'll be the voice of dissent. I've read all three books in Grass's "Danzig Trilogy"--The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse and Dog Years--and I found the Tin Drum to be a fascinating book, easily one of my favourite novels (and the best of the trilogy), with many startling and haunting scenes and images, although I realize that it's a book that leaves very little middle ground. People I know who have encountered the book or the film have been polarized in their reactions--you either hate it or love it. I've yet to meet someone whose opinion of The Tin Drum is "Well, it's okay, I guess..."

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.

Nov 26, 2007, 10:49am

Thanks for the great responses. No one rushing to the defense of One Hundred Years of Solitude?

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?

Nov 26, 2007, 11:27pm

I too, tried One Hundred Years of Solitude - three times. I'll knock a few off my TBR list before I try a fourth time.

Nov 27, 2007, 6:17am

I too gave up on One Hundred Yrs of Solitude, and more recently the similarly magical-realist The House of the Spirits.

Unfortunatley I have The Tin Drum on my TBR pile - Varielle you will have to let us know how you get on with it (msg. #4).

Nov 27, 2007, 6:36pm

#8: 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.

Modifié : Nov 28, 2007, 11:45am

The Da Vinci Code sparked a renewed interest in the origins of the New Testament, unfortunately based on a lot of misinformation. This misinformation has by some (too many, and maybe a lot) been taken to be the historical truth.

13EkaterinaV Premier message
Nov 28, 2007, 6:54am

Yes, One Hundred Years of Solitude is difficult. I've tried to read it twice - without any success!

Nov 28, 2007, 3:25pm


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...

Nov 30, 2007, 2:24pm

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

Nov 30, 2007, 3:30pm


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.

Nov 30, 2007, 4:10pm


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!

Déc 1, 2007, 12:04am

here's another vote for the beauty of Hundred Years and Cholera... maybe there's a reading style that lets one get caught up in it and go with the flow...too much paragraph by paragraph reading, looking for linear logic might be counter-productive... started Tin Drum but did not get very far, not sure why not...

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...

Déc 27, 2007, 2:22pm

I also loved One Hundred Years of Solitude. Maybe some of those who can't get through it are reading crappy translations? Just a thought.

Déc 28, 2007, 7:16pm

I haven't read The Tin Drum though I found both Cat and Mouse and, in a bewildering way The Rat rewarding, satisfying reads. Marquez I have found brilliant every time I have read him - too infrequently of late, sadly. One Hundred Years of Solitude is surely one of my desert island books - I lived and breathed and dreamed its poetic prose - its poesie, perhaps - for months after reading it.

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.

Déc 28, 2007, 7:37pm

Adding to the dissent:

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
Modifié : Jan 11, 2008, 5:04pm

I hated One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I had to read for my first college literature class. That was a long time ago (1992), so I don't recall a lot of details. I do remember being bored and actively disliking most of the characters.

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.

Jan 10, 2008, 7:44am

Okay, okay, I have to put my two cents in: I liked One Hundred Years of Solitude. My only "problem" with it was I found myself constantly having to refer to the family tree in the front. I had problems keeping all the characters organized in my brain. I am almost finished with Love in the Time of Cholera. I wanted to get that read before seeing the movie.

Fév 6, 2008, 5:31am

I really enjoyed the first half of One Hundred Years Of Solitude. It was interesting as I had no real knowledge of South American history. Unfortunately, as the generations passed and new characters seemed to keep having the same names as older characters, I got thoroughly confused and lost and only managed to struggle through by sheer willpower.

I may attempt Love in the Time of Cholera sometime too sometime.

Fév 6, 2008, 9:14pm

#21 I also read The Tin Drum in homage to John Irving, who I love.

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.

Fév 18, 2008, 8:40am

I feel like I've just come home. Hello, like-minded readers!

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.

Modifié : Fév 19, 2008, 10:25am

I can't sit back and not say how much I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude. I've read most of Marquez's work, and enjoyed almost everything, apart from The General in his Labyrinth, which had me feeling that it was ME that was in the labyrinth...

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.

Mar 4, 2008, 5:14pm

Forced myself to read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" all the way through, as it was recommended by a friend who is normally a very good judge of books. Found it very boring; but perhaps that's because I have had an intense dislike of magic realism after reading a couple of Salman Rushdee's novels.

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.

Mar 4, 2008, 7:26pm

I greatly enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude. On the other hand, I thought The Da Vinci Code was utterly dumb, and I have never read anything else by Dan Brown. All the puzzle inside a puzzle inside a puzzle stuff became very boring and repetitive and silly.

Avr 20, 2008, 11:45pm

I hated One Hundred Years of Solitude when I had to read it in college. I read it again a couple of years ago and still disliked it, but less than the first time.

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!

-- M1001

Avr 21, 2008, 9:12am

I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude. Milan Kundera described it as being more like a long poem than a novel and I think he's correct. Since I'm a fan of both poetry and magic realism, it was perfect for me. I can understand why it's not everyone's cup of tea though.

Modifié : Juil 29, 2008, 1:47pm

I love this discussion. The Tin Drum, One Hundred Years of Solitude and ... The DaVinci Code!

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.

Août 13, 2008, 11:22am

I also tried The Tin Drum several years ago and got through maybe 20-25 pages before giving up. The premise sounds so interesting, but I couldn't take anymore of those loooong descriptions of the countryside. An editor should have intervened on that one.

Août 13, 2008, 2:53pm

I pushed my way through One Hundred Years of Solitude. I can't remember a single thing about it now. Nothing stuck, probably because about halfway through I gave up on trying to keep the characters straight. They all seemed the same to me anyway.

I like the idea of magical realism -- maybe it's just the execution I don't like. Perhaps there's another I could try?

Août 18, 2008, 4:29pm

#34 Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family is great and so is Salmon Rushdie's Midnight's Children

Août 24, 2008, 11:32am

#26 I have been trying to get through One Hundred Years of Solitude for about a year now, lost my spot and know exactly what you mean about it being difficult to distinguish what was read and what wasn't! Guess I will pick some point in the middle and hope it begins to sound familiar...

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.

Déc 22, 2008, 2:30pm

(May contain a spoiler.)
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.

Jan 13, 2009, 3:55pm

I have come to the conclusion that people either really like/love, or absolutely can't stand, magic realism as a whole. Now, I love it.

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.

Fév 16, 2009, 2:14am

I liked A Hundred Years of Solitude but mainly because it was just so offbeat and different from the other books that had been forced upon me that year.

Love in the Time of Cholera I finished but did not like as much.

I also enjoyed Like Water for Chocolate which is similar in writing style.

Avr 16, 2009, 7:03am

I hate Cat and Mouse with a passion, so does everyone else I know who read it. That book turned me off of Grass forever.

Août 9, 2009, 12:56pm

One Hundred Years of Solitude is magical realism and magical realism is a style that requires a suspension of disbelief right smack in the middle of a realistic story. There's usually no explanation for the fantasy that pops up, it is just there for the purpose of imagery, art and/or symbolism -- mostly the later in the case of One Hundred Years. A lot of religious tradition and symbols mixed into the culture. This can be irritating if you don't understand what you are getting into before reading the novel.

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.

Déc 9, 2010, 3:36am

I just started reading the Tin Drum and am quite enjoying it!

Déc 9, 2010, 4:29am

I have read neither, but I did quite enjoy Cat and Mouse and probably will go for Tin Drum at some point.

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...

Juil 16, 2011, 11:28pm

Just grazing here ---- and was pulled in by the topic. Love The Tin Drum which I read twice but no other Grass. Tried really hard 3 times to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and finally read it the 4th time. I still loathe it: pretentious and self-indulgent as all get-out. On the other hand, I enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera and The General in his Labyrinth very much. Go figure.
And I'll go away.

Juil 20, 2011, 12:00pm

>44 LizzieD: You've more than done your duty on 100 Years and have more than earned the right to loathe it. Personally, I loved it, but not every book is for everyone. I'm trying to read Gould's Book of Fish right now. It's well-written, and it received rave reviews, but I find myself a little bored and not wanting to pick it up at night. The subject matter is just not working for me and some of the metafiction elements make my eyes roll. I suspect it's more me than the book, but I will be lucky to finish it (or it will be lucky if I finish it). And, if I put it down, I guarantee I won't give it three more chances like you did with 100 Years.

Sep 11, 2011, 12:45pm

I enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude, but my favorite Marquez is Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I think reading Marquez is a lot of work, but to me that is part of the delight. I like being submersed in the story and feeling a part of the family I'm reading about. I also enjoy the magic realism and beautiful natural imagery that breaks up the nasty, dusty, grinding human reality that is Marquez's world.

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!

Déc 20, 2011, 7:46pm

I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I had to remind myself why I was reading it every few pages and by the end I still wasn't particularly enjoying it.

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?

Déc 20, 2011, 8:23pm

you're not alone mrsrochester - I hated The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, too. Awful stuff.

Modifié : Mai 17, 2012, 9:54pm

I'm finishing the redundant, drawn-out, excessively long, hopeless Tin Drum. I'm beginning to figure out that I am not a real fan of magical realism. Orlando? Meh. Fury? Meh.

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!

Juil 10, 2012, 4:31pm

I truly loved both novels. Ah well.

Juil 11, 2012, 12:00am

As for Orlando, it is actually my favorite of Woolf. 'Not saying much. I'd drive into a bridge abuttment before attempting to read To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway, again.

Août 20, 2012, 4:53pm

I don't like magical realism, so have no interest in 100 Years of Solitude. I did like The Tin Drum a great deal.

The Da Vinci Code was a page turner, but withing a few days, I'd forgotten the characters' names and most of the plot.

Août 24, 2012, 9:23pm

Regarding One Hundred Years of Solitude and magic realism --- I know it's considered a classic of the genre, but I don't even remember the magic realism in the novel. And I LOVE magic realism. Yes, there was some in One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it's not a huge part of the novel, in my opinion. I guess I was expecting more. So if that's the one and only thing stopping you from reading the novel, I suggest you reconsider. But personally, Love in the Time of Cholera is a much more enjoyable novel.

Mar 14, 2013, 8:55am

One Hundred Years of Solitude in a discussion on "awful lit"? Wow! García Márquez has to be one of the most accomplished (not to say important, ground-breaking) authors of the 20th century. I can't think of anyone writing in English who comes close. Some of these messages say that García Márquez is hard, but I can't think why - he's a wonderful writer and an absolute pleasure to read - and if he's not a magical realist writer, then really I don't know who is. I guess this thread illustrates that it takes all sorts to make a world, or there's nowt so queer as folk... Please don't waste your time on the Bookers and Costas and miss out on a truly great writer like García Márquez.

Mar 14, 2013, 11:29am

and if he's not a magical realist writer, then really I don't know who is

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.