Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian born Nobel Prize winning writer is best known worldwide for his two most popular novels – One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.
While I ve enjoyed reading Love in the Time of Cholera, I haven’t been able to digest the other of the two books that eagerly but then there is more to the great writer than those two books as I discovered after reading “Memories of My Melancholy Whores.”
It was one of those books I randomly picked up from the book shop, being impressed by its outer appearance as well as the synopsis .I was not disappointed as the story turned out to be the most unlikely sort of “love story”, if you could call it that.
Well for a start the protagonist is a man who gets by in life due to his writing skills, who on his ninetieth birthday decides to treat himself to a night of love with a virgin. So he calls up the madam of the “illicit house” that he had patronized from his young years but where he has not gone in nearly 20 years and asks her to procure the virgin for him. How much more bizarre can a story get, you will begin to wonder at this point. A ninety year old man trying to procure an adolescent virgin? It does sound absurd but the man himself admits that at his age he knows “what he can and cannot do.”
The woman does succeeded in finding the virgin but what follows is not exactly what one would expect to happen. The night of love does not end the way as expected and for the protagonist, who remains unnamed throughout the book, it is the start to the buildup of brand new emotions that he has never felt in his life before. Instead of lust which is what he associated with his acquaintances with women throughout his life, be begins to feel love for the young girl, who driven by poverty has to work as a whore to support her family.
As the story unfolds, we learn about the early life of the 90-year-old man, his parents and his life spent as a bachelor. All his life he has paid for sex but now, even at the age of 90, he wants things to change. As one of his former love- for- hire women tells him quite bluntly, “ Don’t let yourself die without knowing the wonder of fucking with love. “Fortunately for him, there is love waiting for him even in his old age.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is known for writing unconventional stories and this is another one of them. It’s easy to read and a complete page turner. Makes you wonder if it’s ever too late to start living the life you want.