Gabriel Garcia Marquez just has a way with making the mundane exciting. His characters are carefully drawn out–I can imagine him sitting there thinking about them until he has someone whom he knows the reader will want to think about. Not understand, mind you, but definitely think about.
I’m about seventy pages into the book, past the first chapter and into some backstory but I couldn’t stop reading long enough to sit and review it. But this, the description of the main character of the first chapter, Dr. Juvenal Urbino is an example of the care that is taken:
His eightieth birthday had been celebrated the year before with an official three-day jubilee, and in his thank-you speech he had once again resisted the temptation to retire. He had said: "I’ll have plenty of time to rest when I die, but this eventuality is not yet part of my plans." Although he heard less and less with his right ear, and leaned on a silver-handled cane to conceal his faltering steps, he continued to wear a linen suit, with a gold watch chain across his vest, as smartly as he had in his younger years. His Pasteur beard, the color of mother-of-pearl, and his hair, the same color, carefully combed back with a neat part in the middle, were faithful expressions of his character. (p. 5)
Now knowing that the suit is white (and dressed in white linen with a vest and a soft hat and cordovan boots – p.9), I imagine him looking somewhat like the Colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But there is that air of old-time elegance and class. There is a meticulousness about him that tells by his dress that would extend beyond and into an integral part of his personality.
But what is Marquez saying about Dr. Urbino in marking his appearance as "faithful expressions of his character?" Marquez certainly wants us to go back and reread this short passage to come to understand the man. In 100 Years of Solitude, Marquez did not give us such physical descriptions and yet we came to picture the characters, mainly by their behavior and their eccentricities. I believe that he is doing the same here, but in the reverse. Imagine, and therefore, know.