Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Gabriel Garca Mrquez

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9780141028736: Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Gabriel Garca Mrquez

"Memories of My Melancholy Whores" is a powerful novel about a man who so far has never felt love from Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of the "One Hundred Years of Solitude". "The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin." On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a newspaper columnist in Colombia decides to give himself 'a night of mad love with a virgin adolescent'. But on seeing this beautiful girl he falls deeply under her spell. His love for his 'Delgadina' causes him to recall all the women he has paid to perform acts of love. And so the columnist realises he must chronicle the life of his heart, to offer it freely to the world..."Marquez describes this amorous, sometimes disturbing journey with the grace and vigour of a master storyteller." ("Daily Mail"). "Marquez is wonderful on the transformative and redemptive powers of love...storytelling magic." ("Tatler"). "Marquez writes in this lyrical, magical language that no-one else can do." (Salman Rushie). As one of the pioneers of magic realism and perhaps the most prominent voice of Latin American literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez has received international recognition for his novels, works of non-fiction and collections of short stories. Those published in translation by Penguin include "Autumn of the Patriarch", "Bon Voyage Mr. President", "Chronicle of a Death Foretold", "Collected Stories", "The General in his Labyrinth", "In Evil Hour", "Innocent Erendira and Other Stories", "Leaf Storm", "Living to Tell the Tale", "Love in the Time of Cholera", "News of a Kidnapping", "No-one Writes to the Colonel", "Of Love and Other Demons", "The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor" and "Strange Pilgrims".

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Review:

"The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin." So begins Memories of My Melancholy Whores, and it becomes even more unlikely as the novel unfolds. This slim volume contains the story of the sad life of an unnamed, only slightly talented Colombian journalist and teacher, never married, never in love, living in the crumbling family manse. He calls Rosa Cabarcas, madame of the city's most successful brothel, to seek her assistance. Rosa tells him his wish is impossible--and then calls right back to say that she has found the perfect girl.

The protagonist says of himself: "I have 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."

The girl is 14 and works all day in a factory attaching buttons in order to provide for her family. Rosa gives her a combination of bromide and valerian to drink to calm her nerves, and when the prospective lover arrives, she is sound asleep. Now the story really begins. The nonagenarian is not a sex-starved adventurer; he is a tender voyeur. Throughout his 90th year, he continues to meet the girl and watch her sleep. He says, "This was something new for me. I was ignorant of the arts of seduction and had always chosen my brides for a night at random, more for their price than their charms, and we had made love without love, half-dressed most of the time and always in the dark, so we could imagine ourselves as better than we were ... That night I discovered the improbably pleasure of contemplating the body of a sleeping woman without the urgencies of desire or the obstacles of modesty."

Márquez's style never falters throughout this recounting of his life and his exploration of love, found at an unexpected time and place. The erstwhile lover is still capable of being surprised--and fulfilled. After an absence of ten years, it is a treat to have another parable from the master. --Valerie Ryan

About the Author:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in 1927 near Aracataca, Colombia. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. He is the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and Living to Tell the Tale, amongst other works of his fiction and non-fiction to be reissued in 2007 and 2008. This book is translated by Edith Grossman, widely recognized as the preeminent Spanish to English translator of our time.

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