Saturday, June 04, 2005

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I was somewhat disappointed by this book, perhaps partly because I'd read several other books by Marquez, including the stupendous One Hundred Years of Solitude (more than once), so my expectations were very high. I borrowed it from a friend on a whim (Lidia actually, whose apartment is jammed with interesting books), when I realized there was a Marquez I hadn't actually read. It's a historical novel about the last weeks of Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of South America, who was a sick and greatly disappointed man at that point, hence it wasn't exactly upbeat. It reminded me of the sections of One Hundred Years which dealt with a fictional general in that novel - I found those parts rather plodding in an otherwise extremely compelling book. Even so, Marquez writes very, very good last sentences - the last sentence of One Hundred Years is the best last sentence in any book I've ever read. The last sentence of The General was also especially good, it actually gave me goose bumps, even though I didn't particularly care for the first however many thousand sentences which came before. The problem is, you really have to read the whole book before the last sentence has its proper impact - cheating and jumping right to the end probably won't work at all! By the way, my other most memorable last sentence was in Sentimental Education - please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite literary finale.

The Liberator - in better days than those depicted in the novel

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