You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novella by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It entwines several different narratives surrounding the murder of a man in a small town on the Caribbean coast of South America. The story is narrated by the man's friend many years in the future as he talks to the people involved and how they failed to stop the murder. Though the outcome is certain, there is still suspense as we revisit the different points where the murder could have been prevented but never was.

Santiago Nasar was murdered by two men for despoiling the honor of their sister Angela Vicario after her new husband returns her to her home on their wedding night. The family is shamed, and Nasar is killed the next morning. Even though the brothers walk through the town telling everybody they will kill him, most people either don't believe them or didn't care, thinking it was an honor killing. The few people who tried to stop them couldn't find Nasar to warn him.

We hear different people's stories as they cross paths with Nasar or the Vicario brothers. His mother misinterprets a dream that may have been a bad omen. The chief of police takes away the brothers' knives, only to have them retrieve some more. Each story

I was struck by the stark contrast between Nasar, the Arab man who had grown up in the town, and Bayardo San Roman, the stranger who comes to town and marries Angela Vicario in a matter of months. Roman's magical charisma quickly charms the whole population, whereas Nasar is still distrusted as an outsider. The whole story is told with the background of an expected visit by a bishop, who instead only passes by on his boat. It's a telling symbol of the near misses, and the last chance for grace that Nasar loses.

The different story lines provide a full accounting of the critical events on that fateful day, yet everyone's story is a little untrustworthy. Several people wouldn't have minded seeing Nasar dead, so downplay their knowledge. Together, they provide a compelling story of competing yet complementing points of view. A-


Blogger Deirdre said...

Sounds really good! I had trouble with Marquez's magical realism in another book, and I haven't attempted to read him since. I might pick this up!

11:07 PM, May 31, 2008  

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