I began and finished Memories of my Melancholy Whores in the matter of a day. This absolutely never happens to me, as I tend to read books that make turning pages a virtue, and for the most part, I usually love the pace. However, as I ran out the door to catch a plane to Florida, I wanted something really short and really fast. Memories proved to be just this. I was not, however, expecting it to be so vastly important in literary merit and cultural history.
Reading this book is a bit like reading Lolita, only in Lolita, Lola isn't a prostitute and Nabakov's tale is vastly more disturbing. However, much like Lolita, the American puritanism is completely challenged and the author forces you to deal with an individual human, not a pedophile. I quickly realized that the book is not about a 90 year old man desiring a 14-year old prostitute, but about a man finding love at the most surprising age...that life ends only when you allow it to, not at any particular age or station in life. I think Marquez is simply telling a story wherein the circumstances are as normal to his culture (prostitution) as poverty is to others. Of course it is not a desirable way to live, but it is a way of life for most of the world. He (as Marquez is particularly gifted at doing) challenges our pioneering sensibilities and western causes ("let's change the world and make it so much better for everyone!") by making a touching sensitive plot take center stage in a story wrought with offense and squalor.
I hated it at first, but the more it made me grapple with sexuality, age, and love, the more I realized the importance of what Marquez, like Nabakov, does.