MELANCHOLY WHORES (Comments on Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez  keeps writing these wonderful books. Memories of My Melancholy Whores dropped into my lap from the hands of a friend, and no friend could have done me a better favor. The delicious novella opens with one of the most arresting first sentences you’ll find anywhere. “The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” The narrator gets his night, but it isn’t a wild one, and he suddenly, despite his age, he finds himself infected with an infatuation worthy of Goethe’s young Werther. He loses her, spurns her, tries to give her up, but can’t rid himself of her or the emotions she evokes. The guy has had one close brush with marriage, but has spent most of his life frequenting brothels for satisfaction on various levels. His revels have left him with a number of acquaintances–women now in their seventies and eighties–from the red light world, all of whom urge him to hang on to his young woman. “Never give up the chance to fuck for love,” says one. He writes a weekly newspaper column that gives him a chance to compose thinly-disguised paeans to his maiden, which turn out to be popular beyond anything he’s written for decades. It’s as if at a time when he should be desiccated, he’s become rejuiced. There’s nothing of Marquez’s famed magical realism in the 115 little pages of Melancholy Whores, but his 115 pages are worth 400 of most writers on the shelves today. What a treat.


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