“The year I turned 90 I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.”
It’s quite an opening line. One, I suspect, that only a revered, award-winning South American septuagenarian could get away with in our politically correct age.
But don’t be fooled: Memories of my Melancholy Whores – GGM’s final published work of fiction – is not nearly as raunchy or ribald as the title or the first sentence suggest. This 2004 novella is actually a tender little story about getting old and falling in love for the first time; Lolita without the tragedy, Woody Allen with more charm.
It’s one of two GGM novellas I’ve read in rapid succession, the other being his lauded Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Two brothers kill a man for besmirching their sister’s honour. They tell everyone in town they’re going to do it – so why doesn’t anyone try to stop them?
It’s a thought-provoking little fable that I suspect resonates more with the Colombian’s native audience than it does with the rest of us. But both these books are enjoyable single-sitting reads, and a lot more digestible than his lengthier and more florid novels.
Next: the denouement