Still lusty for life yet ruing lost youth.
Synopsis of Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit--he has purchased hundreds of women--he asks a madam for her assistance. The fourteen-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known.
My two cents
A bad first impressionAfter a ten year hiatus, Marquez came back into the limelight with this extremely slim Lolita-esque novel. I am a huge fan Marquez already, so I came upon his book a few years ago, I had great expectations. My first read I immediately hated it. I couldn't get past the revulsion that this story basically glorified a "dirty old man" -- a 90-year-old man sleeping with an impoverished teenager under the banner of "love." I put the book aside in semi-disgust and couldn't process how one of my favourite authors could do this to his fans patiently waiting for his next great novel.
Redeeming qualitiesNow that I'm purposely doing the Read the Nobels, I decided that this book deserved a second chance. Readers do not necessarily need to agree with a story, I reminded myself. I wanted to see if I could get a more positive takeaway. Borne out of a second chance, this review delves into what I did like about it.
Strip this down its bare bones and this is an ode to growing old, a reminiscence of youth lost, and coming to the inevitable realization of the fleeting nature of life. It is about falling in love again, both literally and figuratively, and reliving youth through someone young.
This is quite funny in places which pokes fun at the aches and pains that come with old age. Even with coarse language, naughty comments, and the discussions on sex, sexual appetites and urges, there is a charm to this voice that has shed its shyness of youth. It is matter-of-fact, no-holds-barred, and comfortable in one's own skin. There is no pretension and no need to cloak in the niceties or politeness -- and I love that about this book.
... but still not up to snuffI gave this book the chance but honestly it cannot compare to the loftiness and grandeur that is 100 Years of Solitude or the complexity of Of Love and Other Demons. It's good reading but it is not the best of Marquez's work. I feel a little let down still but comfort myself in the fact that I still have many Marquez books still unread.
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