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KAPOW! celebrating ten years at Powells.com
KAPOW! Decade of Reading essay contest
What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Powells.com, we're asking readers worldwide to describe their most memorable reading experience of the past ten years. To get you started, a few well-known writers and Powell's employees have already taken the question for a spin. Here is one of their answers.
Horseplay

Horseplay
by Judy Reene Singer

Set against the alternately glamorous and grimy world of competitive horse shows, Horseplay is a jubilant ride.
 
Your Price: $3.50
(Used - Hardcover)

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One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"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." William Kennedy, New York Times Book Review
 
Your Price: $6.50
(Used - Trade Paper)

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M?rquez Sends Judy Reene Singer Back in Time

Close your eyes.

Think back to your childhood.

Think back to that exquisite moment just before you begin to play. That moment of decision, when you sift through your imagination, picking through all the possibilities, feeling that soaring rise of the infinite, that dazzling sense of vast horizons and boundless subjects, all yours to choose from.

You turn over each choice in your mind. Do you want to roam through space with Captain Kirk and exterminate hostile aliens? Turn your bathrobe into a cape and become a superhero? Ride a horse across the skies? Incredible moments, those, when you could choose from anything. Anything at all.

Of course, we grow up. There's that common reality-thing we have to maintain. Invisible friends desert us. The tooth fairy is put to rest. Playtime gets restricted and mostly forgotten. We get high schooled and colleged; we get careered; we develop relationships. And rules, like spider webs, descend, and constrict our wild, free imaginings. You absolutely cannot be Godzilla roaring across the backyard or dance on the moon, ever again.

It was quite by accident that, about six years ago, I stumbled upon a remarkable book, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez. I had read some of his work in college, but for some reason, I shuffled through it, not realizing that what I was reading was both seminal and liberating. Reading it again, years later as a fiction writer, was like draining a glass of intoxicating wine and heaving the glass against a great mental wall. Rules went shattering every which way, taking the wall with it.

My old childhood feeling came back. That delicious sense that anything was possible. In fact, desirable. I reveled in M?rquez's freedom, his unfettered imagination. I loved his deadpan humor, not the punch line kind, mind you, just his overall amusement with mankind's foibles. His free wheeling combination of myth and dream and fantasy brought my consciousness to a new level, and I realized, with awe, that when you start writing, anything can be possible. Anything.

M?rquez creates Macondo, a mythical little town, planted deep in the jungle, whose history and timeline goes both forward and back, curling itself into curious circles. Each event reflects the development and behavior of the outer world, delineating the slow march from innocence to corruption, from a simple life to complex. It is an epic novel, superbly crafted and imbued with philosophy. It's strikingly funny, but it's more than a comic novel. There is an underlying sadness, a sense of futility that runs through its astounding narrative. His townspeople are plagued: they forget who they are and what they've done within minutes of doing things, a reminder perhaps, that we are nothing without our memories, and foolish to forget our history. They hang a sign on Main Street that says, "God Exists." A reminder to those that might forget even this.

The book focuses mostly on Jos? Arcadio Buend?a, founder of the town, and family patriarch, who purchases all sorts of seemingly useless inventions, ice, magnets, photography, which are brought to the town from time to time, by Melqu?ades, a gypsy. Except that each purchase and Buend?a's misguided experiments gives rise to not only his town's advancement but its downfall. His moral transgression drives his family towards the fulfillment of their unfortunate destiny.

This is a book to be savored, read slowly, and then reread. You can marvel at the complexity of the sentences that are written in simple but luminous language, or the brilliant combination of dreamy elements that constantly violate the rules of the real world. You may disagree with its fatalism, but you will not escape its gorgeous delivery. It is a perfectly written book.

And so I read it, with increasing wonder and enjoyment, letting it take me back to that glorious time in my childhood when anything could be possible. Anything.

And that's a great place to be.


About Judy Reene Singer
A former high school English teacher with graduate degrees in psychology, Judy Reene Singer has been in love with horses since childhood. She has covered the equestrian world for more than a decade, writing for Dressage Today, Horseplay, and The Chronicle of the Horse, which named her a top feature writer in 1996. Her experience with horses ranges from saddle breaking to riding Grand Prix Dressage. She rides and writes in Orange County, New York.

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