BOOK REVIEW: Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia – Marquez
By: Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V
I just finished reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of my Melancholy Whores (English translation by Edith Grossman) and typical Marquez depressed the hell out of me again just like he did with Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. By far, I would say that this is his best word so far, compared to the dragging descriptions and narratives of his previous great works this is short with succinct descriptions and erotic scences which is a good representation of how these things transpire in reality. It also gives us a glimpse of life as seen by a 90 year old bachelor, a 13 year old virgin prostitute and other accessory characters like the brothel owner. I was initially disgusted I expected lewdness, the commodification of sex, prostitution and pedophilia as is divulged by the title. The synopsis tells of a 90 year old man about to spend a night of making love with a 13 year old virgin prostitute – irksome and disturbing pictures ran through my head upon reading that but I could assure you that it was tastefully written and it would defy all initial deceptions you might have as the story unfolds.
It was made to make you want for more and while reading, it would make you ask if it were based on Marquez’s real-life encounters as the characterization of the 90 year old man is very close to that of the author itself. Gabriel Garcia Marquez with his romantic tongue and flare for heady descriptions and narration of even the minutest details was writing in a different light with this one. Honestly, with his two previous works, I could not wait to put the book down because it was as if the narrative was going nowhere, just pages and pages about how Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza went about their forsaken love. Even the most discriminating bibliophiles and most respected literary critics have mixed reviews regarding the works of Marquez but this one is a good segue from his usual writing style – i.e. a segue that afforded the book a Nobel prize.
The title is apt for its bottom line, the end message, the romantic Marquez has spoken although it is not outright: we would glean that at the end of it all, we all need a love to go home to, that it would be the biggest despair in life to not have someone by your side at your death bed. Why is it called Memories of my Melancholy Whores? The protagonist invites us to his life as a journalist and as a lover of many women, how he views copulation as something that should not be for free and that it should have an equivalent monetary amount even if by coercion if his lover of the night declines (i.e. has sex with him for free) and throws the money away in a gutter. At the age of 50, after recording his affairs with these women, how it came to be and some details of how it went, he was already at number 541. He lost count after that and wrote his memoir at the age of 90 calling his lovers “melancholy whores” as they only bring temporary contentment and the rest of the time is just destitution and loneliness for the old bachelor. After a life of having no serious relationship he finally learns to love and be loved by another. Pair it with how the author places impassioned words and espanol to tell the tale and you have your Nobel Prize winning book.
By: Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie Villar
Friday, June 21, 2013
This is probably the last time that I would write about you and the false hopes that I still bear, I’m not certain if it is the last time and if I would hold on to the past still but I have always been a romantic, a fool, and a dreamer. See, I was watching “Silver Linings Playbook” for the second time this month, it has been raining quite hard in the city that I felt the need to stay at home and draw the blue curtains of my room down, and channel whatever life changing occurrence it was that led me to right here and right now. That scene in the movie (starts at 1:49:49) really struck a chord in me, not only because an antiquated Johnny Mathis song, “Misty”, was playing but because I related the scene so much to what happened in my life. To be more specific, to how we really ended it all. And just as a scene from a movie or real life, an imagined character and setting, a good song and beauty and the imitation of life to art or vice versa inspires me to write, right now I want to write about how we ended because no one really knew, none of my friends heard about the real story, it’s just the same tasteless answers I give them to invoke no further questioning or I divert to another topic that would take the better of their interest.
That scene in Silver Linings would take a spot in my most favorite movie scenes, probably outmaneuvering that one in 27 Dresses when Katherine Heigl dances with her beau under the stars on that yacht while “Like a Star” (Performed by: Corinn Bailey Rae) was playing on the background or that scene in Notting Hill inside the movie theatre right after Hugh Grant finds that Julia Roberts is with another man in the hotel and that old lonely song plays as he watches a movie starring her muse. The understated allusions to love they are and how no matter the differences it has with your own story, you still find parallelisms.
How it happened was a celebration of victory, Tiffany and Pat celebrating a 5.0 they won at a sport-dancing competition they joined and a parlay between Pat’s father and a friend. Everyone was ecstatic, Tiff jumps up to Pat, probably about to give him a kiss and you can feel Tiff’s longing, how she wanted to lock life to that scene just holding Pat and everyone close to them, family and friends around them in a circle all smiles and happy, victorious. And then Pat finds his wife (who cheated on him with a co-worker and gave him the necessary trauma to render time in a mental institution and a restraining order), and everything around him probably dissipated into a blur and he walked up to her and Tiff just looks on with so much sadness in her eyes. Tiff then runs away in her black trench coat and puts on a shoe on the streets, she runs away, just runs away.
I’ll stop the scene on that scene in the streets with Tiffany running away because I believe only in realized dreams but not in romantic happy endings anymore, similar to how the movie ended. Maybe, since this is the last time, it’s about time that I stop explaining myself and time that you understand why Woody Allen compartmentalizes my views on love in the movies he has written and why that scene in Silver Linings is something I can relate to so much. It’s up to you what silver lining we could glean from how we ended.
I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree
And I feel like I’m clinging to a cloud
I can’t understand
I get misty, just holding your handWalk my way
And a thousand violins begin to play
Or it might be the sound of your hello
That music I hear
I get misty the moment you’re nearYou can say that you’re leading me on
But it’s just what I want you to do
Don’t you notice how hoplessly I’m lost
That’s why I’m following you
On my own
Would I wander through this wonderland alone
Never knowing my right foot from my left
My hat from my glove
I’m too misty and too much in love
(repeat after music interlude)
Look at me
I have become more of a reader…
I’m more of the slow reader,
I want to feel the gravity of the words,
the emotion it invokes,
observe the creativity of its syntax,
and realize the impact it has on the world…
But my pace has taken a presto over an adagio,
Even the heavier books on philosophy and the sciences,
I have read with much gusto and a on a faster pace…
what I have read would give me inspiration to write,
more themes to build on,
a steady foundation…
But now I just read and absorbed,
thought about the things I read about a bit but not really do anything about it…
I feel like my creative juices are trapped in a dull and dark room, with a locked door and a hooded guard has went to render his duty, passing off the skeleton key to the next one in charge of making sure I keep quiet, that I attempt no escape. The guards are just outside and I’m left to my wandering thoughts and it is as though I am not trapped in this dull and dark room with a flickering light bulb and mosquitos, it is as if I’m running about in a wide and green field bathed gold by the morning sun but I cannot do anything about it but only “think” it.
I never believed in “writer’s block” as many would whine about it, loathe it and complain about it. I’ve always heard of it and held on to my belief that man is bestowed with unlimited opportunities for creativity and the freedom and license to use it in whatever way he pleases.
But there is a “trauma” that a poet, a writer, a painter, a troubadour, an actor and anyone involved in the arts and the sciences that would cause in him to fall into that dent, a pit or the black hole he would fall into and feel through the darkness.
It would feel like all hope and beauty is lost and there is nothing more to write about, sing about and paint.
Until that miracle comes again and brings the creative mind out of the dent, the invisible hand, a big eagle taking you out with its big claws, the knight in shining armor throwing you a rope to climb out of and giving you the kiss that seals it all, or maybe an unidentified flying object who would use its gamma rays to teleport you to its nest. Until then would you be able to write again of sunsets, a new day and the deep violet night sky.
I found a good definition of WRITER’S BLOCK while surfing the Web for pictures to place on this article and tips as to how to overcome the limbo it is:
Wow, I found this on Thought Catalog. The gal has a great taste in music and we have exactly the same habit, “The Walk of Shame” and “Henny Penny” which I hate and I’m tired of. Nice read.
My dating life is, in a word, terrible. I seem incapable of finding 1) anyone I have a true connection with and 2) decent, stable individuals. By decent, stable individuals I mean those who don’t try to sleep with my best friend or invite me to have a threesome with another guy they met before me and who they purport to like just as much as me. Not that there is anything wrong with a threesome, it’s just that it’s not the sort of relationship-building activity I find particularly fulfilling. When was the last time any monogamous relationship started off with a threesome? At any rate, in the efforts of “giving things a shot” and trying to “break out of my heteronomative-obsessed box,” I go along with things that eventually lead to me walking home, late at night or early in the morning and feeling like Henny Penny.
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I write this as I drop by the Family Mart tucked between the humongous concrete slabs of buildings in 6750 and order a hot cup of coffee and vanilla ice cream…
Vanilla ice cream reminds me a lot of you,
not because you like it, or not because you’re sweet…
It’s because our relationship is like vanilla ice cream,
and became just vanilla mess.
I write this on a tissue paper I used to wipe the vanilla mess on the table and on my lips, it’s raining outside and my head is buzzing from too many vodka shots, am I even making sense now? Maybe not because I can’t make sense of the whole thing we have had. Because of you my writing is a mess, my academic life is defined (now) by my writing and you F it up.
Even my writing is a sticky white vanilla mess.
Over coffee with C, she asked me how I was doing with Mr. Man. I was not really in the position to answer, I felt like I reverted into a zombie, my brain is – – – . I’ve been zoning out of my conversations recently. I perturbed by this preconceived reality. I didn’t really have an apt answer to that question, so I just said that “I don’t know”…
But the truth is that I knew. And he knew it too. We knew right from the start.
How are we doing?
We haven’t seen each other for days, have not texted or called. The end of communication could mean the end of the whole affair and as much as I am tempted to send Mr. Man that text message. It was that one phone call we had that ended it all, we knew, we just knew that was the signal. We were both busy bees, ambitious and workaholic, whenever there was a window in our schedules, we made sure we spent it together even when it meant just hiding under the blanket playing newly downloaded games or those 15-minute lunches with the perfunctory kiss before riding the cab back to our respective offices.
We were really sweet, compatible and perfect for each other. He’s an adonis, I never tire of the sight of him and it never fails to make me lose my breath when I spot him in a crowd of people or when he swoops by. He was the my man version in every way, and losing him now, meant that I was losing a part of myself.
But it was never meant to be even while it was. To me, polygamy and non-commital relationships were MEANS TO AN END, but to him it was HIS END. I was saw the world in rose colored spectacles, I am a romantic despite harping on about the sad realities and cynicisms about love and life in general. He on the other hand was far from a romantic, but he could do the most romantic things because he seeks to please and he knows that I want to be pleased. A big difference in our perspectives that would never coalesce. Our relationship rested on the foundation of our companionship and similarities but it is infected with the cancer of our differences, with our foreseen end.
I was not really ready for this. I felt less lonely with the thought that I had Mr. Man, he was near perfect for my needs and I always had someone to tell how my day went, a sponge for all my frustrations, my happy thoughts and someone who’s always up for a night of great conversation and laughter. But I always held on to the thought that if it were love that we felt, we would not be wasting time and we would have brought things to the next level without inhibitions…
It would be foolish if I keep on holding on to a pipe dream, I’d rather the humdrum of a lone romantic life and be hopelessly romantic again. Just flurry my schedule with the things I want to do and learn, chase after my dreams rather than waste my time on something that should have been curtailed a long time ago. I don’t want the songs we love and sing to become discordant hymns when I listen to them, I would rather keep them in pristine condition by avoiding that point where you break that heart and make them songs I would associate to negative emotions.
I’ll trade my lacy bras for a sports bra, cocktails for energy drinks, ravioli for vegetable salad and the time I used to spend with you to get a fitter body, mind and heart.
Operation Hotness – C laughs at the pun I’m using for this phase but it is the sweetest form of revenge to be a leap ahead somewhat and have my attention be placed on better and more productive things that would benefit me in the end.
SAD CHRISTMAS SONGS IN THE MIDDLE OF JUNE
By: Maan “Maggie” Villar
You can tell how sad I am – I was listening to sad christmas songs on a cab ride to the office as the Manila skyline passed by me in the middle of June. It was dawn, the sun was just about to rise and I was there on my headphones, listening to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Luther Vandross. Sad christmas songs in the middle of June, ain’t that sad? Sad yet romantic, but you could tell I was in a limbo, an all-time low. It was my choices anyway that made me come up to this state of being, I cannot really put it in words. In this state of melancholic delirium do I notice the small things in life that could truly make my day a little bit brighter, that life is not all drama and tragedy:
- Getting that energy drink when the heat is unbearable and weakening, it makes you feel that everything would be okay. That cold passing through your throat counteracting the heat that scorches your skin and makes your lips parched, curing the thirst, lessening the chances of the heat getting the best of you. The best cold drinks are drank noon time, when the sun is high and your head is tad with perspiration. And you just feel happy and fulfilled because of a cold glass or a good old Coke Sakto and a wide all-gum smile from Manang of your neighborhood sari-sari store.
- I always remember when Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde) said that “excercise produces endorphines, endorphines make you happy”. It is a tried and tested beauty and health secret and regimen harped on and on by a million glossies and celebrities. It is true though, I feel happier, healthier, more active and sexier those moments when I step out of my gym building or out of the badminton court. Playing in the court is similar to performing the violin or ballet on-stage, all eyes are on you and you have to give it your best shot, make your smoothest moves and maneuvers to win that game. I always thought that sports and I don’t go together, but I found a new love for it, a big change, I’m trading in a lacy bra for spandex sports bras and chocolates for endorphins.
- Getting a lot of things done in just a span of a couple of hours and that rewarding feeling that you get after a long, tedious day of running around. I would have to commend my mom who has this no-nonsense attitude when it comes to time, she NEVER PUTS OF THINGS FOR TOMORROW. She wants things done PRONTO which is a good thing because it saves a lot of hassle for the next days to come, less things to worry about. So yesterday, mom and I went out, we went all the way to U.P. to sign up and pay for those Law Review classes and for being early, we even got an early bird discount and choice of classes and rooms, I even have enough time to review and freshen up for my diagnostics. We then went to CSC further north in Batasan so I could register for the next Civil Service Exams this coming October, my mom was also able to get copies of CSC documents she needed. I was tired from all the walking and commuting that I wanted to get home and save up energy for tomorrow’s work load but she pushed me to go to the gym, and I did, my stomach muscles hurt like hell but going to the gym equals a good night’s rest so I was able to wake up earlier than usual, read the newspapers and work updates, arrive at the office on time (which is unusual for me recently) and dress up pretty nicely. Doing things early equals an early bird discount without you knowing it, the little perks of being responsible and a step ahead. I’ll take my mom’s attitude on time and getting things done, very nice.
- It’s better to gossip about celebrities than people you know and people inside your office – it’s lessens the evil of the wrongdoing. That being said, you can tell what my seat mate and I do and laugh about in between work and breaks. From Charice Pempengco, Ai-ai De Las Alas, Maja Salvador and the sex scandal of KC Concepcion and Hayden Koh – just ask us, we have all the juice. LOL. (Why do they put their lives up for public consumption anyway if we don’t talk about it?)
- Reading books about art takes the stress away from academic reading and since art is something I am comfortable with reading and something I understand to bits, I understand history and philosophy better when I read it through the great works and artists of this world. Besides, I feel happy to put on my fedora and read the art books in a hole-in-the-wall with fellow hermits, intellectuals and artists. It takes me away from all the heavy thinking required of my academic requirements.
- 360 degree lifestyle change. Although many of my friends would not believe it, I stopped smoking and drinking. Total detox. My 20 year old self made a promise that I would stop smoking and drinking by the time that I am 23 years old. I am glad that I am not having a hard time with the temptation and the so-called “withdrawal symptoms”. I feel lighter and healthier and happier. I initially did not want to take a full stop to all these things because I was afraid that I would lose my “social life”. But the opposite turned out to be true, my friends appreciate me for being “brave” enough and wants me to help them out, the really cool ones made adjustments like Shaina who invited me on a dinner date next week Wednesday instead of a drinking session, and I also found new friends along the way like my Badminton buddies, my gym friends and other healthy living friends and not-so-healthy living ones who were willing to adjust. I MIGHT EVEN GO VEGAN for three reasons: a) I don’t want to contribute to global warming because I’m eating too much red meat b) I want to feel lighter and lessen cholesterol intake and c) I have plans of changing my religion to Buddhism sometime in the future. (I know right?! I’m such a crazy girl! And I love it…)
So yeah, I know I started this post on a sad note, maybe I’m not really sad because I’m not really the emo / feeler kinda gal. Maybe I like listening to those sad chrismas songs in the middle of June just so I could be grateful for the small and happy events happening in my life and for the shallow reason that I like L.V. (Ok, screw it, Luther Vandross) and I like slow jams and lots of saxo-action in the songs I listen to. LOL. Besides, I’ll have my self a merry little christmas this christmas. =P
I always liked June. June is the month that signals more work and a busier schedule for workaholics like myself. When I was younger, June meant new shoes, new bags, new notebooks, new books, new pencils and the smell of new plastic pencil box. Summer has officialy ended and the time has come again to get serious. I say a temporary farewell to my random trips to Baguio, Laguna, and other places here and there. I needed the whole summer to get away from it all, I felt like my head was exploding, overwhelmed of all life plans and deliverables that I have to meet before the year ends. I needed a vacay big time, so I got myself one even if it’s not a glamorous trip to the beaches of Bali or Phuket.
Here are a few highlights of summer 2013, just some vague updates about my life:
- I booked a ticket for an Asian tour to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. (And I can tell I would be broke by the end of that trip from all the shopping, hotels, transpo and food)
- I found my sport. People who know me would say that sports and I don’t get along, don’t go together or whatever hyperbole you could think of which would emphasize that I am not made for such endeavor. But I always win at badminton and the people at the sports center I play at commend me for my “natural skill”. I told my dad about it and he said I take the skills from my grandfather yet again. Runs in the blood, so it seems.
- It turns out that I’m graduating from my masters March of next year, this was really a disappointment, but yet again, my profesors and colleagues have high expectations on my work for my MBA and MSPM degree as my CSR work should be a landmark study in the country since it is an unchartered territory of academic endeavor. Wish me luck on this still.
- I really miss my mom’s cooking, the thought of another run to the restaurant, fast food or another microwaveable meal irks me.
- I had a great summer with the company of my friends, I admit I was a pot head half of the time but I really got closer to them and I’m also happy to meet new friends and be re-acquainted with old ones. Slumber parties, long drives, watching movies, playing Deal or no Deal at the arcade and shouting at each other, karaoke nights, drinking in our places, clubbing, dining out, jaunts to the beach or just Manila bay and having coffee. It really made my summer.
- I rested my mind, I withdrew from reading heavy stuff like academic books, review materials for the law entrance, Tolstoy, Wilde and Dostoevsky. I know, I know – it also meant I postponed a lot of work, but I really felt burned out. It was purely leisure reading this summer, I even stopped reading the newspapers. I read magazine after magazine and John Grisham, classics and Ayn Rand. Okay, I admit I cheated and read some Harvard Business Reviews and a few journals here and there but I feel amped up for the heavier stuff about to come this month!
- Retrospect. Yes sir. I listened to old CDs and songs, looked at old pictures and old photo albums, visited old places like Pizza Volante, Cubao Expo, got in touch with old friends and listened to a lot of old shool jazz songs and Dvorak.
- New gadgets, thanks a lot to my dad who makes it an excuse that he has to “update”. Mom and I are showered with new gadgets that it’s already confusing to tell where you saved a particular file. The 3D TV, massage chair, exercise equipment and other metal gunk up to that weird LED tree dumped in a hallway in our house that still remained either underused or completely unused. Dad’s on a crazy spending spree.
- I’m getting a hand of budgeting and doing adult stuff. I’m ready for bills coming up, household management (like making sure the water is full and there is bearable amounts of energy consumption), making sure the garbage is taken out once or twice a week and that shampoo bottles are full.
- I didn’t write anything on my planner this summer. I was Little Miss Spontaneous but I’m done with that, I have to get it straight now, and live life healthier and like a straight arrow to go along with the sports and the gym membership. I don’t want to put it all to waste since it came from hard earned money.
- I had my BMI and fitness check-up, it turns out I gained 9 kg from my slender 50kg. I have to put more time in the gym and with badminton it turns out. I blame fastfoods, microwave meals and soft drinks for the weight gain, really.3
- I’ve developed an addiction for Thai Milk Tea in those big cans and Kimchi Flavored Korean Noodles. Dairy queen and spam sandwiches are still a constant.