Gabriel García Márquez

Memories of My Melancholy Whores (Knopf)

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Gabriel García Márquez

The father of Magic Realism opts for sensual, straight-ahead narrative

An unstoppable black army of typographical ants swarmed out of Colombia onto the pages of international literature after Marquez published 100 Years of Solitude in 1970. Magic Realism mainlined 1960s high hallucination into high literature and led to a Nobel Prize … plus so many Márquez imitators, good and bad, that the novelty of the new genre inevitably wilted. A Big Question now peers sadly in through the windows of literature: will MR prove, in the end, a literary fad?

Márquez, nearly 80, may himself be weary of opening books to find butterflies floating out of the pages. Memories of My Melancholy Whores, his first work of fiction in a decade, displays magic—gorgeous descriptions and renderings of place—but the white rabbit is gone. No MR, expected or feared.

What’s left? Lovely words, of course. But these words will trouble some—especially women, though the book ultimately bows to the redemption, for a man, in woman’s love and passion.

Our nameless 90-year-old newspaper columnist, a lifelong bachelor, lurks by day in a crumbling old aristocratic home in a South American city. By night, he’s relished a secret lifetime in brothels (514 women, at press time). For his 90th birthday, he chooses one more—a 14-year-old virgin factory girl.

It’s Lolita as Sleeping Beauty, with unexpected turns after the liaison—the stuff of an aging writer’s dreams (or at least fantasies), unsettling and erotic. Our hero recounts his amorous Greatest Hits for good measure. Even with partners, it’s 100 pages of solitude … a bio of one human’s yearning, rendered in beautiful prose.

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