[14] Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Hi all just in case you I decided to take up the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) challenge this month by posting my thoughts on a few novellas. You can read about my challenge here and see the books I’ll be reading throughout 30 days.

So on to the challenge. Enjoy and I hope you’ll share thoughts, too or I’ve at least inspired you to give it a go.

Title: Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Translated: 2005 by Edith Grossman
Format: Hardback, 115 pages
Genre: Magical Realism
ISBN-13: 9781400044603
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, New York
Release Date: 2006

As I was compiling my NaBloPoMo reading list, I wanted to make sure it was as diverse. I was acquainted with Gabriel Garcia Marquez from One Hundred years of Solitude, but had never read any of his other works. Memories of My Melancholy Whores popped up during my search for novellas by Spanish authors. I read the description and was quite intrigued.

The narrator as well as his “love” go unnamed. Marquez is very descriptive to the point where you can feel yourself lying naked in a hammock in the sweltering heat. One of my favorite descriptions is on one occasion that he meets her.

. . .I began to dry her with a towel while I sang in a whisper the song about Delgadina, the kings’s youngest daughter, wood by her father. As I dried her she was showing me her sweaty flanks to the rhythm of my song. It was limitless pleasure, for she began to perspire again on one side as I finished drying the other.

On the narrator’s 90th birthday he decides to treat himself to a night of sex with a virgin, but not any old virgin – “an adolescent virgin.” After reading that very first sentence, I was appalled and taken aback. I stopped and reread the sentence again to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me and sure enough I read what I read. Even in my disgust for some reason I had to keep reading. Marquez had drawn me in. I wanted to know why a 90-year-old man wanted such a young whip of a thing. Did he want to make sure he still had it? Were the older women more discerning and not willing to give in to his sexual whims or fantasies?

As I read I couldn’t help but notice how mentally stunted the narrator is. He rode around on  a bicycle in a bicycle shop like a child, he grew a temper tantrum in the brothel bedroom breaking things, he lied to his editor telling him he didn’t have his article, then producing it saying:

What I had said before was a joke. (43)

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is so much more than a 90-year old man wanting to five himself the gift of an adolescent virgin girl as a birthday present. It’s about love no matter how dysfunctional or irrational

Memories is about an illiterate girl who works in a button factory to take care of her family and still does not have enough money to survive, so she decides to prostitute herself out. The novella is about powerful me going to brothels, paying for sex and the madam that can ruin them. Memories is also about growing old and finding that you’ve never found love or been loved and dying alone. 

Memories is about LIFE.

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