My rating: 3 of 5 stars
How I got it: Borrowed from a professor.
"The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin." So begins Memories of My Melancholy Whores, and it becomes even more unlikely as the novel unfolds. This slim volume contains the story of the sad life of an unnamed, only slightly talented Colombian journalist and teacher, never married, never in love, living in the crumbling family manse. He calls Rosa Cabarcas, madame of the city's most successful brothel, to seek her assistance. Rosa tells him his wish is impossible--and then calls right back to say that she has found the perfect girl.
Take a part of society that is usually frowned upon. And when I mean frowned upon, I mean it’s a FELONY in the United States. Like, oh, I don’t know, murder or child sex-abuse. These are pretty serious issues, right? Well, Mr. Marquez is really taking a casual approach to being a pedophile in his latest novel, published several years ago. While I usually love his work, this one left me feeling a little lost and scratching around for the moral of the story.
If you click on the book and read all about it on Goodreads, I’m sure you’ll see what I mean. A 90 year-old man can’t decide what else to give himself on his birthday except an adolescent virgin. Apparently a movie in town or quiet night at home just didn’t tickle his fancy. But instead of sleeping with her he quickly falls madly in love with her while she snores away in the bed beside him at the local brothel. What follows is a fairly short, but still head-tilting, narrative of what an old man does with his time after falling madly in love with a child.
Aside from the obvious “holy-crap-he’s-a-creepy-old-man,” this was not one of my favorite books by Marquez, writer of books such as Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. His characters bothered me, which usually isn’t the case, and the story line was awkward and bumpy.
However, I shouldn’t say that no one should read this. If you appreciate his other works, or just have a place in your heart for Latin-American fiction, you shouldn’t detest it so much. Plus, the length means you can get through it in one sitting rather than pop a vein over a week.
Marquez is still one of my favorite writers. It’s sad to hear that he’s currently battling some medical issues, and I hope that this won’t be his final book. If so, I hope that future readers will turn to his earlier works first and love them for what they are.