Chronicle of Death Foretold

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. A Chronicle of a Death Foretold. New York: Vintage, 2020.

Reason read: needed for the Portland Public Library 2020 Reading Challenge for a book that takes place in one day. I would say since this is a journalistic interview that takes place in one day, this qualifies…even though the story he is recounting takes place over a span of time.

Whenever there is an unidentified narrator I always think of the Great and Terrible Oz, hiding behind his curtain. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold our narrator is not a Baum-inspired little man, but rather an unnamed friend of the murder victim, years after the fact recounting the downfall of Santiago Nasar. As the title of the novella indicates, everyone knew Santiago Nasar’s life was in danger, but no one did anything about it. “There had never been a death more foretold” (p 50). As an aside, this could be a commentary on our society today. Everyone feels outrage – yet no one is stepping up to do something (anything!) about it. Distraction dictates the assumption someone else will take care of it. Or they are hoping so.
On the eve of Angela Vicaro’s wedding her new husband discovers she did not come to their marriage bed a virgin. Oh the shame! Outraged and humiliated, he drags her back to her mother who beats her severely until she confesses. When Santiago Nasar is named responsible for Angela’s deflowering, her twin brothers speak of revenge. They speak long and loud before they actually seek it. Woven throughout the entire story is the theme of foreshadowing. Even Santiago missed the signs of his own demise illustrated by his ominous dreams. He even misses the note slipped under his door. Then there is the obvious. The twins brag openly about how they are going to kill Santiago. A shopkeeper tells the murderers to wait until later out of respect for the bishop. The drunkards talk of the upcoming murder. Police officers ignore everyone. The church ignores, too. The entire community ignores the talk. Was it the distraction of the arrival of a bishop? Was it communal judgment that Santiago was getting what he deserved?

Quotes to quote, “The smallest, touched by the breath of tragedy, began to weep” (p 23), and “Furthermore, the priest had pulled out the sliced-up intestines by the roots, but in the end he didn’t know what to do with them, and he gave them an angry blessing and threw them into the garbage pail” (p 76).

Author fact: Marquez was a journalist before becoming a prize winning author.

Book trivia: Chronicle of Death Foretold is based on true events with a few changes.

Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about Chronicle, but Marquez was omitted from the index.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Lines that Linger; Sentences that Stick” (p 140).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Martin, Gerald. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: a Life. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008.

This is going to sound horrible but I read the biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez before reading a single word written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have a bunch of different books by Garcia Marquez on my challenge list but his biography came up first. It’s sad to say I never read anything of his in high school or even college. You would think, I being a huge John Cusack fan, that I would have at least read Love in the Time of Cholera! (If you have no idea why I made that connection go rent Serendipity or High Fidelity.)

Surprisingly, this is one of my favorite biographies read so far. It has to be the subject matter. Like other biographies that spend an inordinate amount of time setting the stage (political and socially) or produce pages and pages of mini biographies of the subject’s great-great-great grandparents Martin does bog down with those details in the beginning. His focus is not primarily on Gabriel Garcia Marquez but rather the myriad of family members from both his mother’s and father’s sides of the family. I got lost trying to keep the just cousins straight. Forget about all the drama that went with them! But, aside from that reading about Marquez’s life was fascinating. Martin took 17 years to research his subject and it shows.
Probably my favorite aspect of the biography is the parallels Martin makes between Marquez’s life and his art. Martin doesn’t miss an opportunity to make note of people in Marquez’s life who eventually became characters in his books later. I have a deeper understanding of where the soul of One Hundred Years of Solitude came from.

Favorite quotes, “A whispy costeno moustache appeared on his adolescent lip and was left to wander where it would” (p 108), and “Acquaintances remember him always drumming his fingers on the table as we waited for his lunch , or on anything else to hand…music always wafting through him” (p 145). Guess my husband has something in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez…always drumming on something.

Reason read: Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in March.

Book trivia: Gabriel Garcia Marquez: a Life includes great photography. GGM’s first year picture was adorable.

Author fact: According to Martin’s Wiki page his biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the first full biography to be published in English. Interesting.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Hail, Columbia!” (p 91).