Saturday, October 14, 2006

book of books – Chronicle of a Death Foretold

This has been another slim volume lunchtime read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and just like last week’s choice, No One Writes to The Colonel; it has a depth that is disguised by the smallish number of pages.

Plot summary
Against the backdrop of a marriage between a very rich relative new comer to the town, Bayardo San Roman who marries Angela Vicario but then rejects her because she is not a virgin and when confronted by her family she names Santiago Nasar as the man who took her honour. Her twin brothers kill Santiago in a very public way providing hours of notice of their plans hoping that someone would stop them. The story is told through memory and official document recollections by someone in the town determined to get to the bottom of the story 23 years later. The conclusion is that the whole town, which had plenty of warning about the crime, is guilty.

Is it well written?
The style is different with the murder being told from various different angles before the finger of blame turns on the town. What is more interesting than what is said is what is not so there is a clear suspicion that Santiago never touched Vicario but she named him thinking her twin brothers would never dare touch him; that the major and the priest in particular were guilty of failing their duty; and that the metaphor of the Bishop sailing by rather than stopping near the start of the tale is in fact the same thing most of the townsfolk are guilty of.

Should it be read?
It makes you think, it is written in a way that exposes the psychology of people jealous of wealth but proud in the poverty and it is a story that makes you think about what your reaction would have been. An ideal book to hand to someone who has walked past and accident expecting someone else to call for an ambulance. At 122 pages there is also little excuse in not fitting this slim volume in somewhere in your reading time.

Leads to
More Garcia Marquez or in my case a search for books of the same length to fill up my lunchtime reading time. One of the areas that most people overlook is the short story genre and so I might well start with some of those in the next few weeks.

Version read – Penguin paperback

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