Jun 6, 2015
George deserves kudos on several fronts. First, when his proposed titles were challenged, he promptly offered us an alternative that met with our approval. Second, the title he proffered had so much personal meaning that he had us close to tears when he recounted why. Finally, his eggplant parmesan would have joined Fermina Daza and her mother-in-law in gustatory harmony, and his chess pie might well have convinced Dr. Juvenal Urbino that dessert is better than the game itself.
If One Hundred Years of Solitude put Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the map, Love in the Time of Cholera cemented his stature as one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. Our 7.9 rating confirms how easily we were persuaded by the exquisite storytelling that is the hallmark of Garcia Marquez’ writing. Set in a fictional city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Love in the Time of Cholera tells the compelling if convoluted story of unrequited love, with Fermina Daza at the middle of the triangle formed by her husband, Dr. Juvenal Urbino, and her first love, Florentino Ariza.
Despite our collective thumbs up, our individual reactions were anything but uniform. Indeed, many were quite cryptic—according to my paltry notes. Here are some examples: the book “wrote itself” according to Larry, who nevertheless labored to finish it; the female protagonist wasn’t sufficiently endearing and neither were the long paragraphs (Jack); the plot benefited from “parallel male characters” (Doug, to whom I do no justice with this paraphrasing); the book “mesmerized” Roy until he reached the halfway point (or was it the halfway point of his family vacation in Southeast Asia?); the repeated use of symbols fascinated Stan, who still puzzled over the significance of the birds and refused all of our explanations; and, finally, the book seduced Glenn from the very first paragraph, even though he’d read it before. As for me, yes, I spiked the ratings with a 10, but I had to. The characters are unforgettable, but it was the extraordinary dialogue—with all of its insight into human relationships—that had me from the beginning.
Jack gave us the chance to step further back in time and read one of the few American novelists who compares closely (and favorably) to F. Scott Fitzgerald. We'll see in July if John O'Hara deserved the accolades he received upon the publication of his first and arguably best novel, Appointment in Samarra.