domingo, 8 de maio de 2011

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

I really didn't get the main character of this book. I tried, I really did! But maybe the difference of our ages was what made my tentative a flop. He isn't either a horny old man nor is he a charitable one. The writer gives the impression that the old man finally "finds love" (which is in the form of a young, poor, scared 14 year old virgin) in his very old age. But I can't really agree with this improbable form of "love" because in my point of view I see it more like an old man that is finally feeling guilty for his past sexual experiences and wants some kind of consolation before his miserable life ends. Okay, I might be a bit too harsh on the old man but hey - talk about pedofile!!! 
But other than my sorid thoughts on the book I have to give credit to where credit is due: the writer is fantastic! He knows how to capture the reader's interest and have him engaged in some captive trance as he reads page after page nonstop (as such was my case!). His slyness and sarcasm are both cunny and witty. 
If nothing else García Márquez captures another side of love (or lust - or more likely, both!) and with that he completes quite some feat!

Book Review:
BECAUSE the great subject of the fiction of Gabriel García Márquez is time, no reader of his luminous, strange new book should fail to be aware of exactly how much time its author has spent on earth: on the day of the publication in English of "Memories of My Melancholy Whores," García Márquez will have lived 78 years, 7 months, 3 weeks and 4 days, and he continues to write, as he so often has, about the people for whom time has seemed to stand still. He has always been most interested in the extremely old and the extremely young - for the reason, I think, that our first experiences of the world and our last are the ones that stop us in our tracks, and turn the long confusion of our days into something like stories.
The hero and heroine of "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" are a 90-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl, both nameless, who meet periodically in a room in Rosa Cabarcas's brothel - "the theater of our nights," the old man calls it - and, more constantly and more vividly, in his fevered imagination, where the curtain never comes down. The nonagenarian narrator is the latest in an illustrious line of cranky, obsessive García Márquez geezers, of which the most memorable, perhaps, is the romantic madman Florentino Ariza, whose determination to woo and win in his 70's the woman who spurned him in his 20's is the perpetual-motion machine that powers "Love in the Time of Cholera." But the writer was only in his late 50's, a mere pup, when he invented Florentino Ariza and granted that elderly fool for love the belated fulfillment of his desire. These days, García Márquez needs a dirtier, older dirty old man just to satisfy his insatiable taste for novelty, his lust for sudden and unforeseeable accesses of meaning, his itch to probe the mysteries of last things.
And the central codger of "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" seems, at least at the outset, a very dirty old man indeed. The story begins, with García Márquez's characteristic hit-the-ground-running conciseness, like this: "The year I turned 90, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin." A superb opening - Edith Grossman's translation is, here and elsewhere, elegant and exact - but not, perhaps, the sort of statement that generates waves of good feeling toward the speaker. The peculiar charm of this narrator, though, is that he really doesn't give a damn what his audience thinks of him. "I'm ugly, shy and anachronistic," he writes, by way of introducing himself, and he's just warming up. "I am the end of a line, without merit or brilliance," he calmly informs us; and despite enjoying some local fame as a critic and newspaper columnist in his native La Paz, he admits to being "a mediocre journalist." His lechery is, in fact, among his more attractive qualities; it is, in any event, one of the few areas in which he has truly distinguished himself. "I have never gone to bed with a woman I didn't pay," he writes, and with sheepish pride reports that he was "twice crowned client of the year" in the city's red-light district.
That brief moment of boastfulness is a rarity in "Memories of My Melancholy Whores." Mostly, this old man is beyond pride, and beyond shame, too. Because García Márquez doesn't often tell his tall tales in the first person, and because the story inevitably evokes comparisons to "Lolita," readers might expect this little book to be more of a departure from its author's usual, unmistakable style - the lulling, deadpan bedtime-story tone that has always enabled him to get away with both murder and the more improbable kinds of love. Some might even manage to persuade themselves that this monologue is, like Humbert Humbert's, an ironic apologia, a literary game whose object is to catch the speaker out in his evasions and self-deceptions.
But that's not at all what García Márquez is up to here. The cunning of "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" lies in the utter - and utterly unexpected - reliability of its narrator. This daft coot is, in his way, as trustworthy as St. Augustine (whom he does not, I hasten to add, otherwise resemble) because his story is, like the saint's, a conversion narrative. His reason for writing, he says, is to record "the beginning of a new life at an age when most mortals have already died," which means, of course, that he has no motive to be anything but brutally honest about the now-despised former life, the 90 years, to the minute, he "wasted" (his word) before seeing the light.

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