Monday, October 18, 2010

Love, sex and solitude: Memories of melancholy whores

Read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novella Memories of my melancholy whores.  Whenever I get my hands on an unread book of a writer whom I like, I never reads it in a haste. There outbursts a fear in mind, whether the book justifies my opinion about the writer. I goes on playing with it, reading the title, looking at the cover, never daring to read. What if this novel turns out to be the one that I despises, because there is high chance that a writer makes the mistake writing some thing highly unreadable, and if this is it? It never happened with Marquez before, but you cannot say. So I took my time with this small novella, but finally read it. 

Memories of my melancholy whores is typical Marquez... Many themes that frequently appears in his previous works find place here also. But what sets Memories apart is the unique writing style devoid of the exaggeration or explosiveness. Writing style is more like his Autobiography, Living to tell the tale. It moves without any hurry,  in a slow pace, appreciating itself, enjoying the moments, but outbursting in places... just like the ninety year protagonist who decides to gift himself a night of love from a virgin, to celebrate his ninetieth birthday.

The novel starts in typical Marquez style- by stating a very unlikely situation, the one I just told. All of his novels have this peculiar way of beginning. Love in the time of cholera begins when Florentino Ariza proposes to the love of his teens, when her husband of fifty years of marriage dies. One hundred years of solitude has the picture of a city made of ice cubes and The Autumn of the patriarch has an old dictator dying alone in his palace after a century of autonomous ruling. 

This is the story of a ninety year old, unnamed, unmarried, unread, ugly looking teacher and journalist, who in his own words..."never gone to bed with a woman I didn't pay ... by the time I was fifty there were 514 women with whom I had been at least once ... My public life, on the other hand, was lacking in interest: both parents dead, a bachelor without a future, a mediocre journalist ... and a favorite of caricaturists because of my exemplary ugliness" wants to celebrate his ninetieth birthday with a virgin. He manages to get a 14 year old girl, but he falls for her. He don't know her name or never seen her awake (at one point he is not even able to identify her in daylight).  The experience changes his life, he see a new vigor in everything, changes the way he live, he thinks, making him an overnight celebrity as his column becomes hugely popular throughout the country. 

Three themes that  I feel recurs in this novel is Love, Sex and Solitude. You can find it in many novels of Marquis in different proportions, giving varied interpretations.  Sex for Marquez is a refuge from unrequited love. Like in other novels, the protagonists sleeps with countless prostitutes, but never falls in love. Sex is a way to vent the solitude out of life. And love that requites late in life is an escape from solitude to reality and its beauties.  

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