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Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

They continued to make hurried, heartless siesta love in the evangelical shade of the orange trees. The mad-women encouraged them from the terraces with indecent songs and celebrated their triumphs with standing ovations.

Well this was certainly an enjoyable enough read - Marquez has a wonderful eye for the most quirkily sacred and profane details - but I have to say it wasn't a patch on his tenderly cynical masterpiece Love in the Time of the Cholera. Indeed, at just 160 pages this almost felt in places like Marquez-lite, an affectionate and accomplished pastiche rather than the real thing. The shortness is intentional as this story - of Sierva Maria, a neglected heiress bitten by a rabid dog who ends up incarcerated in a nunnery believed to be possessed by demons - is clearly intended to have a haunting, fabular quality to it. But one of things I've always enjoyed most about magic realist fiction is the sweeping grandeur of its scale: following its characters for years and years and frequently beginning at least a generation before the main protagonists are even born! Despite its epic themes of religion, love and madness, that sense of scale was somehow missing for me from this work, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy its overall premise. The parallel between the intangibility and madness of love and that of supposed demonic possession is an important theme in this book as Cayetano Delaura, the priest sent in to exorcise Sierva, quickly finds himself captivated by her. He also recognises her essential sanity: the demonic tongues in which she allegedly speaks are the tribal tongues of the black slaves who raised and included the young girl in a way her neglectful parents never did (and the novel has some important points to make about multicultural relations, although Marquez, unlike many of his ecclesiastical characters, never preaches). I also felt this novel lacked the uplifting - albeit brief and qualified - sense of redemption in Marquez's earlier work. It is clearly eighteenth-century Colombian society as a whole that needs healing, not poor Sierva Maria, although Cayetano Delaura's attempts to convince his superiors of this are a tragic and thankless task.

Date: 2010-07-13 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clytemenstra.livejournal.com
When I saw Of Love and Other Demons I first thought "oh, thats an album by Strangelove." I think fatigue is kicking in.

I've never actually read any Marquez, although I do own a copy of Love in the time of cholera. I think I'm going to have to read it soon. I am terrible for buying books and stockpiling them!

Date: 2010-07-13 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tispity.livejournal.com
Aww well I think fatigue is understandable as it sounds like you're having a bit of a time of it at the moment. Sorry I haven't yet had the chance to comment on your neighbour troubles but it sounds really unpleasant.

Plus it is an awesome album by Strangelove, so it's perfectly OK to be thinking of it ;) In fact I feel the urge to play it, right now!

I really like Marquez (well you know I'm a sucker for this genre in general and he really is the master of it) and definitely want to read more of his, but I think his longer works give more space for the quirky detail and sense of scale that I love best in this type of fiction. I'd heartily recommend Love in the Time of the Cholera!
Edited Date: 2010-07-13 09:49 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-07-15 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clytemenstra.livejournal.com
Sorry for the delayed reply - been an action packed couple of days. I did complain to the management company about said neightbour - I have a feeling he'll be gone soon.

Love your new t shirt! :)

Date: 2010-07-16 09:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tispity.livejournal.com
Oh that is good news. Hope you get some saner, quieter neighbours very soon.

Glad you like my shirt x

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tispity: Vanquisher character from Torchlight (Default)
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September 2010

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