Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Discovering Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I introduced myself to Gabriel Garcia Marquez during my visit to Crossword in December 2009. I got Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude to begin with.

Have read Love in... and must say that overall, I liked the book. More than the story, which I thought is marred by incidents of passion used as a stop-gap arrangement, I loved reading Garcia's description of places and people.

The chapters on the Paramaribo parrot and Fermina's varied pets are entertaining. That the parrot got excited seeing the pretty maids amused me no end. Dr. Juvenal Urbino's patient lessons to teach the bird Latin and French were also impressive, given my personal indulgence with all things animal. Marquez writes in a splendid style, extremely detailed and full of the darker sides of human character.

Talking about the storyline as such, I did not like Florentino Ariza's character, especially with the consequences of his last fling. It's a book you must read once, though not quite one that you can read again and again.*

I have really liked the novella Of Love and Other Demons. It makes for a quick reading with about 150 pages of power-packed writing. The preface, in which Marquez has explained how a reporting assignment in 1949 sowed the seed of this story, is extremely intriguing. Another fast read is a collection of stories titled Innocent Erendira and Other Stories, about 160 pages. I liked reading Innocent Erendira (the theme is presented as a short paragraph in One Hundred Years of Solitude) but somehow, Gabriel Garcia Marquez seems to end on a note of emotional cruelty each time.

The winner is Memories of My Melancholy Whores, one of the Nobel winner's most recent works. In one line, the story begins with a 90-year-old requisiting the services of a virgin. This adventure introduces him to something like love.

For the benefit of my readers, I quote some lines I found extremely poetic from this novel.

"Make no mistake: peaceful madmen are ahead of the future."

"Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love."

...Morality, too, is a question of time, she would say with a malevolent smile...

"Whenever someone asks I always answer the truth: whores left me no time to be married."

*Edited to add: I am reading much more of Marquez now, and admit that my mind goes back to Love in the Time of Cholera. Definitely something I would read again. April 12, 2010.


So then, which are the new good books you have discovered?