As I sunk into the leather chair, the kind with wheels, with a Gabriel Garcia Marquez in hand, I had little idea i’d be moved to impenetrable silence later that evening. Hordes consider Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist that one piece of literature that transformed their lives: for me it is Garcia’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores. I admit the title piqued my curiosity. A lot.
(Talk about grabbing attention by the basketballs. of all the books that lined the shelf, its girth and the face of a pretty girl in a frilly frock was doing hoola hoops on the repeat. phew.)
Of the prominent post war authors there are, Marquez towers over many in my list.
A ninety year old man of routine, not discipline, mind you, with an asshole that burnt almost as often as it helped him survive. a columnist, journalist and Spanish and Latin instructor by the day and a lonely man by night. Not all that pious though; there were scores of women he had laid to bed, both friends and whores, even his house maid. these were women of valor who could actually bear the sight of his exceptionally ugly countenance.
In the life of a man such, completing nine decades of existence was not to be a lament of youth, years and friendship but a celebration of life itself. so this ninety year old journalist calls up a professional pimp and with no warning or introduction, tells her it is time.
Marquez dips into his life with what seems familiar detail, telling the tale of a man who found love at ninety and kept it. I find his acquaintance with his story’s protagonist very fascinating because he illumines corners of an old life that most of us wouldn’t know until our knees began to gave way and the hair turns gray, until we have lived through youth and then stood facing the last act of our lives. His insight is awesome.
The relationship that an average man, who has never bothered to pause and think about such things as love, shares with a young seamstress of sorts in possibly the least romantic setting has no markings of a usual courtship and yet every sigh that escapes their breath is just as steeply stained in longing and agony.
The few nights that they share a bed they never touch, and yet the old guy begins to grow younger at heart.
The novella is written in first person and has just the right pace: I never found myself skipping pages – you cannot.
The language is sprinkled with delightful sounding bits of Spanish and such. The primary character is well drawn.
His love interest is a muted character but vivid.