A Love Supreme

Garcia Marquezs strangely uplifting Melancholy Whores

Complications ensue, of course, which keep the narrator from his nightly visits to Delgadina and foment the kind of changes in him that you'd think would be impossible for a 90-year-old to endure, including a wholesale re-evaluation of the kind of man he is. At the same time, it becomes clear that the love he has for Delgadina is an invention of his imagination. He never sees her awake and actually "preferred her asleep," which will raise all sorts of flags not just for feminists but for anyone skeptical of the idealizations involved in the madness of romantic love. Still, in this book, love does prevail against death—the fear of death, anyway—and we're given the kind of deliciously happy ending that just might have gotten whipped up by Prospero's wand in The Tempest. Whether you buy it will depend almost entirely on how much of a romantic you are.

"An old man is a paltry thing/A tattered coat upon a stick," W.B. Yeats wrote in "Sailing to Byzantium." "Sick with desire/And fastened to a dying animal/It knows not what it is." For Yeats, the only solution for aging is the consolation of art, which is symbolized for him in the gorgeous artifacts of the Byzantine empire. But for García Márquez's narrator, Byzantium is no country for old men. For him, the modern embrace of the aesthetic is explicitly rejected: love again reigns supreme, and Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores is a reckless embrace of Love's Desire as All.

MEMOIRS OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES BY GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ; KNOPF. HARDCOVER, 115 PAGES, $20.

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