Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes beautifully. Many paragraphs throughout his works can be easily mistaken for poetry, as they contain language so vivid and colorful that it inspires even the most disinterested reader. MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES is Marquez's first piece of fiction in ten years, yet it maintains the writing acumen that he's famous for and that permeates his other works. It is also markedly shorter than many of his other novels; the 113 poignant pages of this novella take the form of a memoir. The writing is both profound and superb, and the story is eerily familiar.
This novella is the story of a fastidiously dressed man. He is scholarly yet insecure, debonair though not rich. The Scholar, as everyone calls him --- both because of his age and because of his wisdom (which is distributed through his Sunday column in a newspaper) --- awakens on the morning of his 90th birthday in the beautiful house that his parents bequeathed to him and begins to recount the story of his life, which has been filled with women for hire but has remained largely devoid of love.
In a manner similar to Leo Tolstoy's THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYICH, the Scholar realizes much about life as he approaches the end of his own; unlike Ivan Ilyich, however, the Scholar is not bedridden and feels a yearning for rekindling something of his past. His only true friend in the novella --- a weathered woman, only a few years younger than the Scholar and the owner and overseer of an aged brothel --- reminds him of his wonderful past and aids him in what he thinks will be one of his final hoorahs.
Fortunately for readers, the Scholar's life takes an unexpected turn, and to his disbelief, he falls in love with an unlikely girl. His Sunday column becomes a personal diary of love that touches the heart and captures the imagination of his readers.
Abruptly, calamity strikes and shatters what the reader hopes will be a happy ending to a checkered life. However, the Scholar must rebound and take up the search for his found, and lost, love.
MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES is not a story about death; rather, it is a vibrant story of life renewing itself and the odd places where people find their passion. The setting of a lovely Spanish town and characters deserving of our empathy make this novella a memorable, beautiful and inspiring one.
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Published by Vintage
--- Reviewed by Scott Handwerker, www.bookreporter.com.