Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Originally posted on Guiltless Reading.

Still lusty for life yet ruing lost youth.

A bad first impression

After a ten year hiatus, Marquez came back into the limelight with this extremely slim Lolita-esque novel. I am a huge fan Marquez already, so I came upon his book a few years ago, I had great expectations. My first read I immediately hated it. I couldn't get past the revulsion that this story basically glorified a "dirty old man" -- a 90-year-old man sleeping with an impoverished teenager under the banner of "love." I put the book aside in semi-disgust and couldn't process how one of my favourite authors could do this to his fans patiently waiting for his next great novel.

Redeeming qualities

Now that I'm purposely doing the Read the Nobels, I decided that this book deserved a second chance. Readers do not necessarily need to agree with a story, I reminded myself. I wanted to see if I could get a more positive takeaway. Borne out of a second chance, this review delves into what I did like about it.

Strip this down its bare bones and this is an ode to growing old, a reminiscence of youth lost, and coming to the inevitable realization of the fleeting nature of life. It is about falling in love again, both literally and figuratively, and reliving youth through someone young.

This is quite funny in places which pokes fun at the aches and pains that come with old age. Even with coarse language, naughty comments, and the discussions on sex, sexual appetites and urges, there is a charm to this voice that has shed its shyness of youth. It is matter-of-fact, no-holds-barred, and comfortable in one's own skin. There is no pretension and no need to cloak in the niceties or politeness -- and I love that about this book.

... but still not up to snuff

I gave this book the chance but honestly it cannot compare to the loftiness and grandeur that is 100 Years of Solitude or the complexity of Of Love and Other Demons. It's good reading but it is not the best of Marquez's work. I feel a little let down still but comfort myself in the fact that I still have many Marquez books still unread.

Synopsis of Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit--he has purchased hundreds of women--he asks a madam for her assistance. The fourteen-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known.

Read the Nobels 2016
Find out more about Read the Nobels!

Download #free June @ReadNobels wallpaper featuring Elfriede Jelinek

{Cross posted on Guiltless Reading}

If it's the first time you're hearing about this, these calendar wallpapers are a fun monthly project I cooked up for myself and is a sneaky way of promoting the Read the Nobels Reading Challenge for 2016. I select an author who has won the Nobel Prize Literature, a book cover, and a quote.

About Elfriede Jelinek

Elfreide Jelinek, 2004
Elfriede Jelinek, from Austria, won the Nobel Prize in Literature 2004 "for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power"(

I was quite drawn in by the fact that Jelinek is polarizing with her work which explores the themes of sexuality, sexual abuse, and powerplay of the sexes. One of her most popular works, Die Klavierspielerin (The Piano Teacher*), the featured book in this month's wallpaper, showcases this quite well. See the synopsis here:

The Piano Teacher* is a searing portrait of a woman bound between a repressive society and her darkest desires. Erika Kohut is a piano teacher at the prestigious and formal Vienna Conservatory, who still lives with her domineering and possessive mother. Her life appears boring, but Erika, a quiet thirty-eight-year-old, secretly visits Turkish peep shows at night and watched sadomasochistic films. Meanwhile, a handsome, self-absorbed, seventeen-year-old student has become enamored with Erika and sets out to seduce her. She resists him at first but then the dark passions roiling under the piano teacher s subdued exterior explode in a release of perversity, violence, and degradation."

The 2001 movie by Austrian director Michael Haneke, The Piano Teacher (movie), was based on Jelinek's book. It won numerous awards in the 2001 Cannes Film Festival including the Grand Prix, best actress and best actor.

I have not read any of Jelinek's work but am sufficiently intrigued based on this one book.

Would you consider reading Elfriede Jelinek?

More links about Elfriede Jelinek:

Go ahead and download this month's wallpaper!

Right click image, download, and set as your desktop wallpaper. Voila! #ReadNobels makes an appearance on your computer! (Note: Wallpaper for personal use only.)

* Affiliate links

Author photo: By The original uploader was Ghuengsberg at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Past wallpapers:

Get some Nobel Prize winning literature in your reading lists! All it takes is one book for the entire year. Click to join the challenge RIGHT HERE!

Read the Nobels 2016

Endgame by Samuel Beckett

Reviewed by Edith LaGraziana

The Purgatory of
Life Before Death

So far my experience with what is called the Theatre of the Absurd has been very limited and not particularly enchanting. Therefore it was daring of me to pick of all things a play by the 1969 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015 on Books and Chocolate for which I signed up with my main book blog Edith’s Miscellany. I must admit that reading his famous Endgame from 1957 hasn’t been a mere pleasure for me. As a matter of fact, absurdity not only confuses me as much as ever, but it also annoys me terribly although in general I like the symbolic and thought-provoking.

Quite expectedly, the play left me at a loss at first. Not being a chess player, I didn’t even grasp the title’s reference to the final moves of a game that in fact is already decided. For the rest, the story took a while to sink in and to allow me to see some of its hidden meaning. The scene, as the author meant it to be, is scarce and bleak from beginning to end consisting only of an almost empty room with two windows on the back wall that are so high up that it requires a ladder to look out. In an in-depth analysis of the play I read that it’s an assertion to the human skull, but reading the book it didn’t occur to me although it might be rather obvious when seen on stage. In the room there are two ashbins and, on a chair in its exact centre, sits Hamm as if he were just a piece of furniture, not one of the protagonists. Apart from Hamm only three characters ever appear on stage, namely the other protagonist called Cloy and Hamm’s ancient parents Nagg and Nell “living” each in an ashbin where they sleep and nibble a biscuit occasionally. The world of all four is one without hope nor meaning. All they ever “do” is wait for death to bring them the long yearned for salvation. The play focuses on the relationship of Hamm and Cloy which is one of mutual dependence. Blind and paralysed Hamm clearly represents the thinking and inventive mind that is helpless without the five senses and muscle control of which Cloy is an allegory since he is the one who can perceive the outside world and move about in it. Nonetheless, Cloy depends on Hamm because without his key he has no access to food and is doomed to starve. Nagg and Nell, on the other hand, stand for the memory of the past that many of us tend to treat like rubbish. Their role in the play is secondary, though, because they only appear when Hamm calls for them.

There isn’t much of a real plot in Endgame because the play revolves around the characters whose actions are often repetitive and – absurd. Surely, it’s a play that needs to be read and seen on stage, but I’m not much of a theatre-goer. Writing this review, however, helped me to understand the idea behind the play and to appreciate its complex symbolism. It’s clearly a work of genius… and therefore not easily accessible.

Original post on Lagraziana's Kalliopeion:

#Win Herta Müller's The Fox Was Ever the Hunter #Giveaway (open WW!) @ReadNobels

The first ever Read the Nobels 2016 Reading Challenge is ongoing and you can join in any time of the year! Just read one book written by a Nobel Prize for Literature laureate in 2016. Ready? Sign up HERE.

This week, 4 copies of a new book by 2009 Nobel Prize Laureate, Herta Müller is up for grabs, courtesy of the publisher. 

Your next Nobel read could be a freebie if you win The Fox Was Ever the Hunter (2 paperback copies - US only, 2 ebooks - International).

Here's a little more about the book:

About The Fox Was Ever the Hunter by Herta Müller*: An early masterpiece by Herta Müller now translated into English for the first time by Philip Boehm. This striking novel centers on four friends in Romania during the last months of the totalitarian Ceausescu regime. One of the group works for the secret police and is reporting on the others—but which one is it? Combining an array of intense images, Müller shows us how the terror and paranoia of surveillance can permeate even the most mundane details of daily life.


The way of the apple worm

The ant is carrying a dead fly three times its size. The ant can’t see the way ahead, it flips the fly around and crawls back. Adina doesn’t want to block the ant’s path so she pulls in her elbow. A clump of tar next to her knee glistens as it seethes in the sun. Adina dabs at the tar with her finger, raising a thin thread that stiffens in the air before it snaps.

The ant has the head of a pin, the sun can’t find any place to burn. The sun stings. The ant loses its way. It crawls but is not alive, the human eye does not consider it an animal. The spike heads of the grasses on the outskirts of town crawl the same way. The fly is alive because it’s three times the size of the ant and because it’s being carried, the human eye does consider the fly an animal.

Clara is blinded by the blazing pumpkin of the sun and doesn’t see the fly. She sits with her legs apart and rests her hands between her knees. Pubic hair shows where her swimsuit cuts into her thighs. Below her pubic hair is a pair of scissors, a spool of white thread, sunglasses and a thimble. Clara is sewing a summer blouse for herself. The needle dives, the thread advances, the needle pricks her finger and Clara licks the blood and spits out a shorthand curse involving ice and thread: your mother on the ice. A curse implying unspeakable things done to the mother of the needle. When Clara curses, everything has a mother.

Find out more about Herta Müller:

Herta Müller is the 2009 Nobel Prize Laureate. Check out her The Passport which was featured in a previous post.

Other books by Herta Müller :
Author photo - Ave Maria Mõistlik (File:Müller, Herta.IMG 9379.JPG) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

* Affiliate link

© Read the NobelsMaira Gall