I finally finished this! I took forever for multiple reasons. First--I started and restarted probably four or five times, because I was quickly finding myself lost as to what was happening. After a while, I just went with it--though also checked out the text version to go back and forth. I also was finding myself going for longer periods between listening sessions and having shorter sessions--my running volume has gone way down, and most of my audio "reading" has tended to happen during runs. (Plus walking to the office from the parking lot in the morning and walking during lunch.) There was a period where I was having headphone problems, and there were times when I just wasn't in the mood for this book.
It's not the book's fault! It's Garcia Marquez--it's captivating. But I had to be in the right headspace for it, and I did get there.
The book chronicles seven generations of the family of Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran. Jose Arcadio Buendia is the founder of the village of Macondo in Columbia. Jose Arcadio and Ursula are first cousins, which causes her to fear that their children will be born with tails (of pigs). They are not, but much later in their line (after some accidental and worse inbreeding), eventually one of their descendants does appear with a tail like that.
The family through its many generations keeps repeating the names Jose Arcadio and Aureliano for their male children. Remedios and Amaranta are favored names for the girls. The repetition of names reinforces the cyclical nature of time expressed in the narrative. Political upheavals, wars, and economic cycles parallel historical events in Columbia. The characters casually interact with ghosts and some of the characters can deliver prophecies.
One of my favorite quotes:
"The years nowadays don't pass the way the old ones used to," [Ursula] would say, feeling that everyday reality was slipping through her hands, In the past, she thought, children took a long time to grow up.
Boy, can I relate!