First read: 1984
Owned since: 1995 (this copy)
This copy replaced a battered paperback I bought used at Second Story Books in the summer of 1984, and read on the even-30s bus while commuting to my summer job. That summer is dreamlike in my memory, and this book is a major reason why. It begins:
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.
Even reading that passage now I feel hypnotized, and want to keep reading. It's been too long since I read this book; when I do go back to it, it will be something different from the novel my 18-year-old self read to pieces. I wish my Spanish was good enough to be able to read it in the original.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Nobel laureate, and this morning the Nobel Committee announced that Doris Lessing had received this year's prize for Literature. I don't own anything by Doris Lessing, and I think I've only read her in excerpts (sorry, but I have no formal education in literature).
I've said before in this space that I have mixed feelings about prizes. The crime fiction world just held its annual convention, with its usual orgy of prize-giving. Some friends of mine won prizes, others lost, and once again it seems to me that giving away prizes mostly just makes the people who lose feel bad.
But then again. At last week's annual meeting of the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Augusta, the board recognized my student and me as Student and Tutor of the Year. I was so pleased for myself that it made me reconsider my position on prizes -- and even more pleased for my student, who has worked so hard over the past two years.
It's nice, sometimes, to have an objective witness who says, unprompted, "Good job." I'm sure Mr. Garcia and Ms. Lessing would agree.