The narrator of Memories of My Melancholy Whores is a nameless 90 year old man, who meets a 14 year old girl in a brothel – the latest in a long series of women he has met in various locations (the titled melancholy whores, though the original Spanish is bit less formal). The narrator makes no attempt to charm the reader, telling us he is “the end of a line, without merit or brilliance”: indeed, he stands out almost exclusively for his lechery. The story, though, is one of rebirth – at ninety, he finds himself in the grip of a whole new emotion, a youthful passion about the girl he has met.
Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It hurts me, therefore, to say I wasn’t wild about MMMY. It had neither the substance nor the stunning imagery typically associated with Marquez, and though it wasn’t a bad read, I didn’t find it up to the standard of his other works. The self-centeredness of the narrator means the rest of the characters exist almost exclusively in relation to himself, rather than having personalities of their own. Appropriate for a character study, as the book in some ways is, but it also makes the interactions less compelling, because it portrays one star dimming its way out of the sky, not a constellation.
“The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.”
“Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.”
“I would not have traded the delights of my suffering for anything in the world.”
“I never had intimate friends, and the few who came close are in New York. By which I mean they’re dead, because that’s where I suppose condemned souls go in order not to endure the truth of their past lives.”