Memories of My Melancholy Whores might be a novella, but I guess that depends on how you feel about the term. Is this book a long short story, or a short novel? This is definitely a stand-alone story, in a beautifully bound Borzoi Book by Knopf, written by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman.
This story is about and old man, written by and old man. So you might expect that some of that old man's dreams may leak over into the other. And that's exactly what this story is; the last best dream of a lonely old man.
I don't know Gabriel García Márquez, so I don't pretend to know what he feels about being older, and I have no idea whether he's similar to the character in this story or not. lets assume, not What I can tell you is, this book is both softly sad, and sometimes sweet.
The main character is a proud, accomplished, but ultimately lonely man, who never had time, or maybe never made the time, for love and instead satisfied his urges by visiting prostitutes or maybe even worse, having sex with women and just treating them like prostitutes. For his 90th birthday, he decides that maybe he should revisit his younger, rakish days, and visit a prostitute. So he calls an old madam and asks for a virgin. The old madam finds him a 14 year old girl, who sews buttons at the local factory to help support her family.
Maybe this is written with a view to (or from) a different era, but pig-child-molester is a phase that comes to mind. But this is literature, so I'll put that away for now, and try to look at this from an artistic point of view. I suppose the girl represents his lost youth, and folly when it comes to love. Because now, he finds that--even though he never touches the girl, other than a little kissing of her body its just art, its just art, its just art--he finds that he can finally begin to feel what it would have been like to love as a young man.
What follows is a crazed obsession, and while the writing is interesting, and the translation reads well, I'm just not sure what else I'm supposed to feel. I mean, I guess its nice that the old duffer finally gets to feel, but I'm not sure why it couldn't have been an 18 or 19 year old woman. Still vulgar, but not horrific. Again, maybe its a cultural thing, and this certainly could have been set back in the day. They do talk about newspapers as a going concern, so it could have been 50 years ago in Spain or Mexico (I don't recall.) Was this kind of thing socially acceptable then?
They made a movie in 2011, based on this 2004 book! In the movie, the girl is 20. I don't think it would (could!) have been made if she wasn't. Another interesting tidbit, the flower on the book jacket was added to the American edition, to cover up the exposed breast of the model. Like it wasn't bad enough, dude.