A strange little detective story. So, in a day or so, I polished off Garcia Marquez’s 120 page novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold. It’s a strange little novel, in that it’s a sort of detective story, yet without all of the Noir elements. The story seems to be centered around a main character’s reconstruction of an event: an honor killing.
We don’t really get to know the main character. He was around at the time, but he seems to be the only player in the town that did not have some impact on the final outcome. Garcia Marquez does an excellent job making the entire town into a character. Everyone takes part, and in the end, a man is dead, but fault is hard to pinpoint.
I’ve read detective stories before. I know you have, but what makes this one pretty cool is that from the beginning, the reader know who dies, how he gets it, who does the killing, and why. You might ask, “So, why would I need to read the book?” Well, I’ll tell you.
Garcia Marquez constructs a town and a culture that is both fiery in its righteousness (willing to defend it to the point of violence) and frozen by inhibition and fear. By going on through the story, he troubles the easy fault-finding of the murderers, and he challenges the reader on notions of loveless marriage, abuse, sexism, and virginity.
This book is violent and it does not leave the reader feeling like the bad guys lose in the end. As with real life, the result of violence is pain for all involved. Garcia Marquez does a masterful job creating a real-as-the-gravel-beneath-my-feet town with human characters.
Give this book a read. It’s quick, but it’ll stay with you.