Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Memories of My Melancholy Whores - Gabriel García Márquez I love literature, and in particular I do love Spanish literature. Even translated the language is so rich and poetic.I have read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work before. I have enjoyed Chronicles of A Death Foretold, and A Hundred Years of Solitude. Therefore, when I saw Memories of My Melancholy Whores I was looking forward to rich characters with elements of nostalgia and romanticism.However quickly I was confronted with a sad and darker theme wrapped up in beautiful language and masquerading as the narration of a hopeless romantic.The premise of the book is this: a 90 year old man, who had never been in love, decides he wants to gift himself sex with a prepubescent virgin for his 90th birthday. So he calls his favorite brothel, and gets the madame to arrange a meeting with a girl who meets his specifications.Eventually, the madame finds a girl and he gets a call to go over to have sex with this girl. But upon getting there he is told that she was so nervous and afraid that she essentially had to be sedated and he goes into the room with a naked 14 year old girl.He cannot wake the girl, and so he decides to not have sex with her, and just sleeps next to her, still paying her.So even though the sex does not happen, I find this book is filled with the sickening idolization and fetishization of this girl by this man for a year. He continues to see her, recreating their first meeting, she is asleep and he touches and fantasizes about her, but no sex. He builds up this ideal perfect image of her, he controls what she looks (to a certain extent), and he interprets anything from her as an admission of love/fondness/intimacy, despite the fact that she is asleep for all of their meetings.He imagines he has conversations with her through her body language as she sleeps. That when she wears his gifts that she is doing it to please him rather than to fill a request for a client. He writes messages to her on the mirror and the irony is that she can't even read or write. He doesn't know her voice or even her name, he makes up a name for her deciding that is who she is and refuses to even learn her real name less it ruins what he believes is the "real" her.Throughout this whole book, the man is convinced as well as everyone around him is convinced that he is in real love, and in a real relationship. The consent of the girl is completely implied from the perspective of everyone, who interacts and speaks with him. "Why don't you marry?" "She is crazy about you." Everyone who speaks, implies that there is a real connection except the one person who never speaks, the girl herself.Her voice is disturbingly absent from this novella, and sadly I feel like this reflects the society that we live in. The fetishization of youth and virginity, does not empower young girls, but silences them. It silences and paints over who these girls really are and prevents them from being who they can be. It teaches this girls what to expect and what to do to receive this sickening adoration that is glorified by our culture. What to do for a man to dedicate all of his time and thoughts to you, for a man to write letters upon letters filled with his love and idolization for you. To give into the image that is placed upon you, is what one should do to receive what you are told is the greatest position you can achieve.This book couldn't help but to take me back to when I was working in retail when I was a teen, and the sad fact that I received the most offensive sexual comments from men over 70. Men who thought that I should fall head over heels, or be reduced to a blushes and giggles when they confessed what they thought about my body. What they wanted to do to me "if only they were a few decades younger". Things said from the standpoint that I should be grateful for their "admiration". Even giving me tips on how I could be just a little bit more attractive, as if that obviously was my goal, to be as attractive as possible.Just like this man just assumes that everything this girl does, is for due to her love for him, and not for the fact that she is the sole breadwinner of her family and needs the money, it seems like there is a portion of men in our society that just assume that everything women do is for them, for their affection, attention, and admiration.I don't know whether to recommend this book as a means to analyze the sick fascination with virginity, youth, and the role of women from the perspective of the patriarchy or to tell everyone to run, run as far as you can from this book. It has a disturbing rosy image of themes that ultimately support rape culture, and the submissive role of women, by making it seem "worth it" if it enables a man to experience what he believes love feels like. That dragging and subjugating a young girl into prostitution was some how worth it since she was able to give a man a feeling of love and she got a few gifts in the mean time.I personally have never felt more disgusted and appalled with a book. And if Gabriel Garcia Marquez's intention was to make me feel disgusted then this man is a genius, but if his goal was to sympathize with a old but flawed man who learned to be a hopeless romantic through fetishizing a fourteen year old girl, I don't know what to think about him anymore. If there was an ounce of conflict or regret in this man for feeling this way about a fourteen year old girl, then this book can be redeemed, however the narrator shows absolutely no remorse for not only what he is imposing on this girl, he also shows no real remorse for any of his other actions of violence against women he admits to.