I thought it’s going to be some sleazy book with inappropriate graphic details in it. But it’s not like that at all. Memories of My Melancholy Whores is actually quite a sad story and the reader will wonder if the main character has been fooled of his money and his heart.
A 90-year-old journalist wishes to give himself a birthday treat by requesting for a virgin girl to sleep with. He’s always been a frequent visitor to the brothel and although the lady pimp has kept offering him virgin prostitutes, he’d decline them. But now that he’s already 90 and probably felt that his time is almost up, he decides to have a wild night of love with an adolescent virgin.
The lady pimp, Rosa Cabarcas finally managed to find a 14-year-old girl who has to take care of her crippled mother and also her younger siblings. When the old man arrived at their room, he finds the girl sleeping and doesn’t wake her up. Instead he only observes her and sings into her ear. He names her Delgadina. When he woke up in the morning, the girl is still sleeping.
It continues like that for the rest of his ‘appointments’ with the young girl. He always never finds her awake and has never spoken to her. But one thing’s for sure. He has fallen in love for the first time in his long, lonely life. He even changes the style of writing for his column with the newspaper that he works with. From dry, old-fashioned topics, he turned his columns into some sort of ‘love letters that all people could make their own’. Of course, love struck readers began responding to his column which had never sparked such interest before.
But could a 90-year-old man find love with a 14-year-old girl whom he has never spoken to at all? If so, does she love him back? She’s probably just there for him because she’s paid to do it. As a poor young girl who has to support her family, she doesn’t have much choice but to turn to where the money is. And the pimp, Rosa must know that the old man is hopelessly devoted to the girl and she could be cheating him out of his money.
The 115-page novella is told from the man’s point of view. He reveals himself somewhat completely to the reader, why he’s never fallen in love, why he has only slept with women he’s paid and more. The first line of the novel is interesting enough to pull the reader in.
The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.
From there on, it’s been an intriguing read. The novel was originally written in Spanish but has been translated into English. If it weren’t for my English class, I would never have picked up this book to read despite its stimulating title. Sorry to disappoint but no, there weren’t any erotic scenes at all. The story only explores the loneliness of a very old man who thinks he has found love at the age of 90.
The author, Gabriel García Márquez is known as ‘Gabo’ throughout Latin America and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He has written two other famous novels which are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. I would sure love to read more of his books!
Other reviews: Literary Musings