Sunday, December 22, 2013

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

An old man experiences love for the final time

This man, who in his younger years frequented the brothels (twice winning Customer of the Year), decides, for his ninetieth birthday, to give himself the gift of a night with a teenage virgin. But things don’t turn out as expected. First of all, the girl doesn't wake up so he sits by the side of the bed and watches her. He worships her, he worships her youth. In his newfound fever of love, he remembers his life, the women he has loved, his mother. He adopts a cat. The man rescues the girl from her button factory, he buys her a bicycle, he rips up her room in a fury of jealousy. And at the end of the book, it seems, quite unironically, that the two of them live happily ever after.

This legitimately was a short story instead of a novel, but if you’re a Nobel Prize winner they’re going to package what you write as a novel. Nonetheless, it was beautifully written with powerful memorable metaphors and evocative of the sweetness of life. I think this might be about old age. Lovely writing, although the narrator (and perhaps the author?) assumes a 14 year old girl is perfectly content to sell her virginity to an old guy for a few bucks in order to feed her brothers and sisters. The sad part is that this man has lived ninety years and yet never lived at all. Never truly opened himself up to love. He hides out behind his education, his money.  And yet, in the end, he has hope.

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