Conversation between Andy and I sometime in 2011 after I finished the book

Me: Listen, I’m not saying we CAN’T be friends if you don’t read this book, I’m just saying I’ll like a complete stranger who has read the book just a little bit more than I’ll like you.

Andy: We’ve known each other since we were two Jenny.

Me: It is most definitely not personal

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“I sometimes feel as if the only thing that matters in my entire life is to read books like this. I sometimes think I was made to turn page after page and unscrew the book out of its hinges, setting it free in my mind and letting it do its biding with my conscience. I sometimes… fall in love, madly in love, with the mind of someone I never met. I fall in love with his stories, I fall in love with his dreams, I fall in love with his nightmares. And the reason why I succumb to this passion is that my loneliness’ story is described by his story’s loneliness. The ending. Just the ending. Just a hundred years of solitude that were not able to save anyone.” -Goodreads Review by Ana 5/11/14

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In 1989 the literary world was quite literally on fire. But a smaller, less theatrical fire was also burning in the San Joaquin Valley in California.

Novelist William Kennedy is famously quoted as saying that One Hundred Years of Solitude is “the first piece of literature since the book of genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”

Even as a reading teacher I don’t agree with the idea of required reading for large groups of people. One size does not fit all with literature. Why should my male students be forced to read the Bronte sisters when they’d rather not? And forcing books on students usually makes them resent that book if they become even the slightest bit bored. Grapes of Wrath is monotonous, frustrating, and just plain boring. However no one but myself forced me to read East of Eden and I’ll bring that one to the grave with me (ya know, just in case there is that afterlife thing and I get to read, but I can only read if I brought my own books. One can never be too prepared).

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Wow. Just wow.-Goodreads Review Rachel 1/14/12

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“I wish i could delete my memory to read this book again for the first time, then delete my memory again and read the book again .. and on and on .. ” -Goodreads Review by Alsoufi 10/18/10

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In the US each individual state has power over the curriculum set forth in their school districts. The secretary of Education for each state creates the standards and basic guidelines to be followed. There are however guidelines to follow from a Federal level as well, one such Federal guideline came about from the 1969 US Supreme Court case; Tinker vs Des Moines Independent Community School District in which the court stated that “state operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism” [1].

When creating curriculum for a subject such as math it is easy to say that algebra is algebra and 1a+2a=3a. There isn’t much room for negotiation on the merits of equations and facts. However when deciding upon curriculum for more abstract subjects such as literature it is harder to distinguish and agree upon what is worthy and what is not worthy. In the 1989 McCarthy vs Fletcher case a California appellate court explained the struggle involved in creating curriculum for such topic as follows; “there exists an inherent tension between two essential functions of a school board; exposing young minds to the clash of ideas in the free marketplace, and the need to provide our youth with a solid foundation of basic moral values” [2].

Basic moral values.

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“I can literally feel new wrinkles spreading across the surface of my brain when I read this guy. He’s so wicked smart that there’s no chance he’s completely sane. His adjectives and descriptions are 100% PERFECT, and yet entirely nonsensical. After reading three chapters, it starts making sense… and that’s when you realize you’re probably crazy, too. And you are. We all are.”- Goodreads Review by Meg 5/28/11

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“No review, however laconic or ponderous, can do justice to this true piece of art”-Goodreads Review by Khan 7/25/11

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Wasco California sits in the San Joaquin Valley. I’ve been through that area before. Just passing through. I don’t remember Wasco specifically, but I remember the valley. According the the US census in 1980 Wasco had a population of 9,613. It’s an agricultural town famous for growing roses. I want to believe that after creating the town of Macondo, a small sleepy agricultural town locked in a valley is something that Marquez would have appreciated.

In 1989 while reviewing literature curriculum two books went up for review in front of the board of education; Grendel by John Gardner and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The complaints were that the books were anti-religious and that One Hundred Years of Solitude in particular was described as “contain[ing] too much profanity, vulgarity, and sordid imagery to be appropriate” [3]. The book was also described as “garbage being passed off as literature” [4]. The decision faced small back lash from some parents, students, and tax payers, but in the end the decision was final.

This is hardly totalitarianism. It barely passes as censorship either. No library can be expected to shelf every book ever written and it is not censorship to simply not have some books in stock anymore than reviewing literature curriculum is not censorship.

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Fun Facts

Gabriel Garcia Marquez said he was influenced by Faulkner, he also read a lot of Hemingway

This is Salman Rushdie’s favorite book and it inspired The Satanic Verses

This has out sold any other book available in the Spanish language except The Bible

Marquez said the English translated version was so impressive he thought it to be better than the original

Harvey Weinstein approached Marquez about a movie version and Marquez said; “We must film the entire book, but only release one chapter—two minutes long—each year, for 100 years.”

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“There are no words for this book. That’s because Marquez took them all and rearranged them ever so perfectly to the point that no one need play with words ever again.” -Goodreads Review Jenny 12/10/11

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“For a long time I could not find words to write anything on One Hundred Years of Solitude, for Marquez mesmerised me into a silence I didn’t know how to break…The only way to retain your sanity is to remember your history and cling to it, or prepare to go insane.” -Goodreads, Jibran 10/17/15

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Most people have strong opinions on Presidential candidates. I don’t. I don’t believe that Presidents have as much power as people seem to think. The President has to deal with congress, the UN, lobbying companies…They can only do so much. Some people know who their state senators are, a few might know who their governors are and or who their representatives are. But very few know what is going on at a local level. People rarely check in on their local chamber of commerce, or city council meetings, or local school board meetings.

When things like this happen it isn’t usually because most people in the city are strongly offended by a book. This happens because one fragile mind found something to be upset about and went to their local school board meeting and complained until they got their way. The people who were fine with the curriculum how it was don’t usually show up to school board meetings. I don’t blame them. These meetings are usually boring and stuffy and the people are self-righteous and smarmy. But in my mind one of the coolest things about being a tax payer is that I get say in what the kids will learn. If no one is ever there to fight against the easily offended then the easily offended will get their way and kids will be sheltered from anything that might not be comfortable.

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