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Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Memories of My Melancholy Whores
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Review by: Craig R. Stafford

In this short, introspective novella, we meet a life-long bachelor, but never know his name. He writes an unremarkable newspaper column, has just turned ninety and has placed a phone call to Rosa Cabarcas, the owner of a brothel to fulfill a desire...a promise. He wants "...to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin" to mark the occasion.

While the protagonist and his unique request is lascivious, this story is not. (Remember: we are in the talented hands of Marquez.) This novella becomes more a reflection on long life, on the inspiring powers of youth and beauty, on fully understanding others and yourself, and the haunts of memory. Despite his age, he finds himself held fast by the uncontrollable forces of love-and suffering the frustrations of adolescence in the process. It is one of his old loves-for- hire, Casilda Armenta, who guides him to understanding; who calms him after he is upset and destructive and has opened his heart to her with his tale, saying "Do whatever you want, but don't lose that child. There's no greater misfortune than dying alone." This arms him with focus and purpose, and sets the tale in the direction of a satisfying finale.

Mostly, for me, it was the theme of caring that resonated throughout this tale that moved me most. It is only now, at this moment, writing this review and sharing my thoughts with you, that I realize how apropos the passenger train excerpt with which I ended my previous review, nestled in the arms of this Marquez review. "Life is a long walk forward through the crowded cars of a passenger train..."


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