Awesome story. A small, growing town of peasants living peacefully but theocratically resists when the Brazilian government tries to take down their charismatic, revolutionary preacher. Bordering on fantasy, but painful and depressing in the kind of way that only good literature can be. Of course, I only started reading it because it had a cool cover and a cool name.
Then I picked up "The Storyteller". Two Peruvian university students in the Sixties argue over whether "civilization" is a good thing to push on the indigenous tribes of their country. Years later and half a world away in an art gallery, the narrator sees a photo of the Storyteller who belongs to one of these tribes, and he's convinced that it's that old pal of his from school.
Another great story. In the middle of the straightforward narrative, it switches to a series of myths and tales repeated by the Storyteller, then bounces back and forth between the two narrators. Makes you think about what "civilization" means, what happens when different cultures mix and clash, how storytellers and novelists have to share the same skills and the same motivations. Makes you understand modern South America a little better if you're an ignorant Yankee who can't tell the difference between authors with Spanish names.
On a radio show, I heard people raving about "Love in the Time of Cholera." They read excerpts and made it sound so good that I knew I had to find it. Besides which, he did such a good job on those other two books, how could I go wrong?
"Love in the Time of Cholera" is the ultimate almost-unrequited love story. After setting his sights on this woman who turns him down, the protagonist watches and waits for sixty years or so, while she marries, has kids, lives a full life, and becomes a widow. He almost spoils it by coming on too strong, too soon after her husband dies. She tells him to go away and never come back, but he gradually wins her over.
It's a million times more romantic than any generic Romance novel you'd read, because they're old people by the time they finally become friends again. It's romantic that they're still interested in getting to know each other at the ends of their lives, when you know it's not a matter of physical attraction anymore.
Somewhere along the line, I realized that I'm an ignorant Yankee who can't pay attention to Spanish names, because I couldn't remember the difference between Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's because they use their middle names, I guess. Too many names for me to process correctly. I see the string of cool sounding Spanish names, and I can't remember which is which.
I had those two names stuck in my head, but only recently remembered that this all started with "The War of the End of the World" -- by Mario Vargas Llosa.
Now I'm reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude," and I couldn't figure why the library doesn't list any of these four titles when I look up "Jorge Luis Borges." It turns out that I haven't read anything by Borges. I'll have to read him next, if only to exercise this demonic confusion.
Mario Vargas Llosa = The War of The End of The World, The Storyteller
Gabriel Garcia Marquez = Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Jorge Luis Borges = [will fill this in at a later date]