Monday, January 09, 2006

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez,
Edith Grossman (Translator)

I picked this up at the Vegas airport while waiting for my flight. I am a huge fan of Marquez's style of painting vibrant pictures with the simplest of characters. And it has been a while (10 years) since Marquez's last work of fiction came out. So I had no hesitation in picking it up. Also the fact that it was a novella, made it an ideal candidate for flight reading.

First things first. The plot of this book may seem creepy to some. A 90 year old bachelor (not a virgin) deciding to have celebrate his birthday with an adolescent virgin is not exactly a picture of celestial romance. Some may even feel that it is in bad taste.

But I did manage to look beyond that aspect as I read the book.

The book reveals a central character who is fragile physically due to age and probably fragile of mind too. Time seems to have caused atleast a few fissures. This man (who is never named) has never loved, has a near-marriage and all the women he slept with were paid for their 'services'.

At this point I was finding it difficult to decide whether to sympathize with this man for whom death looms ahead or to just reject him outright as a womanizer. I was unable to do both. Probably because as a reader one's duty is not to judge a character but merely observe.

Well, there were shades of the Marquez that we are so familiar with. A poignancy expressed in a very subtle fashion, a hint of highly refined erotica and beautiful imagery.

But does that make a good book ? For me atleast it doesn't. It seemed a bit too laborious and at times pointless. Maybe it was meant to be that way. Finding love when you are at the doorsteps of death, may make your life seem pointless no matter how big your accomplishments are.

Maybe I am so accustomed to the beautiful tapestry of events in Marquez classics like the '100 years of solitude' ? Maybe that is why I felt a bit let down.

So my final verdict ? A good read for die hard Marquez fans. For someone starting out, I wouldn't recommend this as an appetizer for the feast which Marquez is capable of.

Rating : 2.5/5

1 comment:

Kyahgirl said...

oh goody, I have '100 years of solitude' in my 'books in waiting' pile. Maybe I'll read that next!