100 Years of Reading, in About 24 Hours
English professor Chris Reed introduced the book as a “perfect” choice for the format, because “the plot’s not really the point. You can walk away for a while and come back, and pick it right back up.” Sue Paterno ’62 took the podium for the first reading, apologizing in advance for any of the Spanish names she might mispronounce. And then she dove right into One Hundred Years of Solitude, the subject of the second annual Penn State Marathon Reading.
The classic of “magical realism” by Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude seems an appropriate follow-up to Catch-22, which kicked off this new tradition last fall. Like Catch-22, Marquez’s book is filled with absurdity, humor, and characters with memorably (and sometimes confusingly) colorful names. And of course, like Joseph Heller’s classic, it uses all those tricks to open (and occasionally blow) its readers’ minds.
The event kicked off at 1 p.m. Thursday and is expected to continue through early Friday afternoon, or however long it takes for the hundreds of volunteer readers—students, faculty, local luminaries, and yours truly, at 7 a.m. Friday—to get through it. Late-night pizza, early-morning donuts, and lots of caffeine were supplied to keep things moving. If you stop by the reading—you can’t miss the tent set up in front of Pattee/Paterno Library—you might hear passages being read in the original Spanish; there were copies available in French and what I think was Mandarin, as well.
As a participant, I hope this is the second Marathon Reading of many. What a fun thing to be a part of.
Ryan Jones, senior editor