5 masculine, organic, decaying stars 8th Favorite Read of 2016 Do not make the mistake that this book is about love This book is about much common vices Vices that masquerade for love.Jealousy, obsession, desire, pity and vengeance.Perpetually selfish penises promising but only perjuring voluminous misunderstood vaginas.Men using women that use men.The demise of the body, civilization, disease, poverty, stolen riches, subservience, slavery.Sexual abuse in the guise of parental guidance Smothering overindulgent mothers psychologically killing sons and maiming daughters.Beauty and comfort for the very few Shades of skin as important as class and wealth.Narcissism, poetry and empty years of mindless despair.Rot, sickeningly sweet perfumes, theft and unknown history.Oh no, do not misunderstand this book is not about love Anything but. I don t like this book.I don t like the characters This was going to be a list, but then I realized that this is the only reason I have Florentino Ariza is a baby Seriously, his mom gives him whatever he wants, and she tries to make everything all right for him, and he is very, very if he lived today, he would be one of those emo kids with the dyed black hair and the eye liner and the journals full of bad poetry he does write bad poetry, in the book , all Nobody gets me, and just a grating, time sucking, high maintenance type He rationalizes his behavior in whatever way he can, so he never feels that he is doing anything wrong.I grew impatient with him fairly quickly I wanted to wring him by his neck and yell, GET OVER IT I have no tolerance for that kind of behavior.Sometime during the Seduction of the 600, it says that Florentino Ariza thought that when a woman said no, she really meant something else that s a paraphrase This is another thing I have no tolerance for So, when he persisted in his attentions to Fermina Daza, even after she d made her own feelings quite clear TWICE , and she came around to his way of thinking, it justified his behavior I don t think he should be rewarded for that I think he should be kicked to the curb.Fermina Daza was almost likable I was almost there with her, but then I realized that there wasn t anything really likable about her She was efficient and organized, she was well behaved, and she was boring Why did men love her What did she have to offer I DON T KNOW.I did like Juvenal Urbino Of course he dies in the first chapter.It seemed to me that the book dragged on FOREVER I kept looking ahead to the end of a chapter and sighing, Forty two pages The chapters are long Even though two weeks doesn t seem like a long time, it s a long time for ME to be reading a book, particularly one that isn t a thousand pages long and written in Elizabethan English.I didn t think this was any kind of love story Like Wuthering Heights, it s a love gone wrong story, or an obsession story none of the characters really displayed any of the traits that I would associate with love, one which the chief one, I would say is selflessness None of them were willing to put anyone else above themselves, and maybe that s why I didn t particularly care for them, or for this book.I ve written a in depth review here. I previously read One Hundred Years of Solitude and I liked it a lot, and I was intruiged by the title Love in the Time of Cholera so I thought I d read it.Within the first few pages I had the inkling I didn t like it, but sometimes it takes books a little while to get warmed up Plus, I don t like starting a book and not finishing it, because I know I ll never go back to a book I stopped reading because I didn t like it, and if I stop reading it, I ll never know if I would have liked the rest of it So I forged ahead and completed the whole book.First off, the magical realism that made 100 yrs of Solitude so gripping was not as prevalent in Cholera I actually only saw it a few times in the entire novel, unless it was so well done that it was just perfectly woven into the book and I didn t notice I doubt that thoughbut this was easy to get over I mean, it s a different book, so it was bound to be, well, different from 100Solitude But I guess my conservative religious side was riled up by the rest of the book It portrays everyone as being incredibly sex oriented Men, women, everyone And not morally so, if you know what I mean Everyone sleeps around, while married and while unmarried And the tone of the book seemed to be saying that that s expected quite frankly, like the sex a person has, most of the time with the people, the normal and in some ways the gifted they are I m generalizing quite a bit, not getting into the specifics of the story and my reactions to them, however.Now this book is on Oprah s book club list and she said it s the greatest love story she s ever heard Alrightif a good love story equals someone waiting for their true love, where waiting means having sex with everything that moves And now they re making a movie The tag says Florentino, rejected by the beautiful Fermina at a young age, devotes much of his adult life to carnal affairs as a desperate attempt to heal his broken heart I guess I can see how you can read the book that way I guess I just don t prefer books where carnal affairs are the center And I didn t read it that way It didn t seem to me that the carnal affairs were a desperate attempt to heal his broken heart They seemed like he just wanted to have sex in the meantime SOMEWHAT SPOILER ALERT BUT NOT REALLY you cannot declare yourself a virgin just b c you didn t love the hundreds of people you had sex with before your one true love What bothered me I think was that in the end, I couldn t tell if the novel was condoning a life of promiscuity as long as it leads to one true love, or if it was condemning its character s behavior in some ways I tend to lean towards thinking it wasn t really condemning it though I probably missed something, I m sure Because not being sure what a book was saying is not usually the book s fault.In some ways it should have been titled Sex in the Time of Cholera, because the term love was used instead of sex almost constantly, and obviously, those are two very different things. Can unrequited love last a lifetime That s the premise of this book A 76 year old man pines for a woman all his life Now her husband has died Does he still have a chance Actually they were in love as teenagers, but they mostly exchanged secret notes She was guarded by her nanny and when her father discovered the relationship, he took his daughter away for three years It worked When they returned the young girl no longer loved the boy and she married a man who became a prominent and wealthy doctor The doctor s claim to fame was cleaning up the Colombian city of the open sewers that led to the disease In 1900 we re told the man is 40, so you can figure out the time frame He has an uncle who runs the local steamboat river shipping company He starts out sweeping the docks, becomes a clerk, and over the years eventually rises to manager As he does so, he attends various cultural events in the city and occasionally sees his beloved She and her husband are the most socially prominent people in the city Sometimes he gets a smile or a nod from her sometimes not Meanwhile he visits prostitutes and has long standing affairs with several women Some aren t sexual He even has an affair with his 14 year old niece, ending in tragedy.The story alternates between his story and hers The constant civil wars of Colombia are a background to the story Finally her husband dies and, having not talked with her for 51 years, he makes his move There is excellent writing as we would expect Some passages I liked He was still too young to know that the heart s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past At one point the woman learns her husband has been unfaithful and he admits it and weeps She is disappointed because he did not do what she had hoped he would do deny everything, and swear on his life it was not true, and grow indignant at the false accusation even when confronted with crushing proofs of his disloyalty She was a ghost in a strange house that overnight had become immense and solitary and through which she wandered without purpose, asking herself in anguish which of them was deader the man who had died or the woman he had left behind Always remember that the most important thing in a marriage is not happiness, but stability No, I m not rich, he said, I am a poor man with money which is not the same thing An excellent book I had read this years ago and I should have re read it sooner A classic from the master of Latin American literature that I will add to my favorites Photos from top A street in Cartagena from cartagenaexplorer.com Steam ships on the Magdalena river around 1873 from media.istockphoto.com illustrationsThe author from okdiario.com DNF at page 218 This is tough for me to admit I hate not finishing books but I cannot carry on with this any longer when I am not enjoying it and I have so many other books I could be reading instead The writing is tedious Focused on a man rejected when he was young and his infatuation with this woman for years afterwards He sleeps with numerous other women, as we are shown in detail His first love marries another, but he still cannot move on His obsession borders on the creepy, he never really knew her that well in the beginning anyway let alone to call it true love I m fed up, so I m giving up No rating. 236 El amor en los tiempos del c lera Love in the time of cholera, Gabriel Garc a M rquezLove in the Time of Cholera Spanish El amor en los tiempos del c lera is a novel by Nobel prize winner Colombian author Gabriel Garc a M rquez first published in Spanish in 1985 Alfred A Knopf published an English translation in 1988, and an English language movie adaptation was released in 2007 The main characters of the novel are Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza Florentino and Fermina fall in love in their youth A secret relationship blossoms between the two with the help of Fermina s Aunt Escol stica They exchange several love letters However, once Fermina s father, Lorenzo Daza, finds out about the two, he forces his daughter to stop seeing Florentino immediately When she refuses, he and his daughter move in with his deceased wife s family in another city Regardless of the distance, Fermina and Florentino continue to communicate via telegraph However, upon her return, Fermina realizes that her relationship with Florentino was nothing but a dream since they are practically strangers she breaks off her engagement to Florentino and returns all his letters A young and accomplished national hero, Dr Juvenal Urbino, meets Fermina and begins to court her Despite her initial dislike of Urbino, Fermina gives in to her father s persuasion and the security and wealth Urbino offers, and they wed Urbino is a medical doctor devoted to science, modernity, and order and progress He is committed to the eradication of cholera and to the promotion of public works He is a rational man whose life is organized precisely and who greatly values his importance and reputation in society He is a herald of progress and modernization Even after Fermina s engagement and marriage, Florentino swore to stay faithful and wait for her However, his promiscuity gets the better of him Even with all the women he is with, he makes sure that Fermina will never find out Meanwhile, Fermina and Urbino grow old together, going through happy years and unhappy ones and experiencing all the reality of marriage At an elderly age, Urbino attempts to get his pet parrot out of his mango tree, only to fall off the ladder he was standing on and die After the funeral, Florentino proclaims his love for Fermina once again and tells her he has stayed faithful to her all these years Hesitant at first because of the advances he made to a newly made widow, Fermina eventually gives him a second chance They attempt a life together, having lived two lives separately for over five decades Urbino s function in the novel is to contrast with Florentino Ariza and his archaic and boldly romantic love Urbino proves in the end not to have been an entirely faithful husband, confessing one affair to Fermina many years into their marriage Though the novel seems to suggest that Urbino s love for Fermina was never as spiritually chaste as Florentino Ariza s was, it also complicates Florentino s devotion by cataloging his many trysts as well as a few potentially genuine loves By the end of the book, Fermina comes to recognize Florentino s wisdom and maturity, and their love is allowed to blossom during their old age 1995 1369 508 1373 512 20 1383 525 1388 1385 542 1385 520 1393 520. It Was Inevitable The Scent Of Bitter Almonds Always Reminded Him Of The Fate Of Unrequited Love The Aromatic Fumes Of A Lover S Poison Lead The Way Into The Story Of An Unrequited Love That Survives Fifty One Years, Nine Months, And Four Days Florentino Ariza, A Man With The Soul Of A Poet And The Patience Of A Saint, Has Waited Than Half A Century For His Love, The Beautiful And Naturally Haughty Fermina Daza Since She Revoked Her Promise To Be His Wife And Married One Of Their City S Wealthiest Men, Dr Juvenal Urbino, InsteadThat Half Century Is Filled With Encounters And Travel, Births, Deaths, And Poetry As Fermina Daza And Dr Urbino Build Their Life Together, Creating A Love Based On Shared Experience, Florentino Ariza Builds His Own Life, Remaining Loyal To Fermina Daza In His Heart, If Not Exactly Faithful, Succumbing To Long Term Liaisons But It Is Only When Dr Urbino Finally Dies That Florentino Ariza S Real Life Begins From Inside Cover This review is now also available at The Bombay Literary Magazine TBLM The Infinite Capacity for Illusion The words I am about to express They now have their own crowned goddess. THE INFINITE CAPACITY FOR ILLUSION Whither The MagicOne Hundred Years of Solitudeis one of my favorite novels Which is why, when I started reading Love in the Time of Cholera, one of the things I noticed immediately was the lack of the subtle brand of magic that I had so enjoyed I missed it and was on the lookout for it I wanted it badly and went around every corner with the expectation of a cheerful reunion But it was not to be.As Pynchon says the reality of love and the possibility of its ultimate extinction become Love s indispensable driving forces, whereas magic in all its guises and forms becomes peripheralized or at least thoughtfully deployed in the service of an expanded vision, matured, darker than before but no less clement Why this marginalization of the extraordinary Why this deliberate move towards realism Why no Magic I kept asking myself this as I read, and beyond Was I to understand that it is because Love in itself is Magic That was too cheesy, even for M rquez who never shies from telling me a cheesy sub story if it needs to be told.Or is it because Love in the Time of Cholera is to seen as the product of a experienced author, who no longer needs the resources of magic realism and hyperbole to surprise the reader One thing was sure, Love in the Time of Cholera is not only about Love, even when it pervades every page Indeed, it covers, through its characters wide amorous and business interests, an entire era and all the social classes, spanning over fifty years of Latin American life, from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the first two or three of the twentieth Love in the Time of Cholera, while on a much smaller scale thanOne Hundred Years of Solitude, deals with the Colombian civil wars of this period and the violence left in its wake M rquez however wants these historical and political concerns to be passed largely unnoticed by the reader While One Hundred Years of Solitude disguises the political themes through the uses of myth, fantasy, hyperbole, and magic realism, Love in the Time of Cholera disguises them through its depiction of an eternal, sometimes exasperating, almost unrealistic love affair, one which flouts the conventions of every love story the reader might have come across Love in the Time of Cholera is often quite bleak due to this veering towards stark Realism, to this occasional historical invasion of the narrative Much of this realism arises from Death and Decay the central themes of the novel However, M rquez does not completely give up on Idealism either In fact he is neither an Idealistic or a Realistic author he is just a supremely eloquent voice speaking from the vantage point of his own old age and wisdom.To me, Love in the Time of Cholera is a magnificently gloomy novel though M rquez s masterful sorcery masks it well, with his verbal cascades of descriptions and his narrative s seductiveness.M rquez s novels are almost invariably gloomy They are apocalyptic They are decadence distilled Then why the popularity Why do we love them Why are we uplifted Is it because of M rquez s enthusiastic exuberance I think it is because of the Quixotic Heroism of the people who populate these doomed worlds.It is this heroism that veils the Apocalyptic forebodings that pack so densely like storm clouds throughout the firmament his novels.After all, Consider how during the entire time he waits to talk to Fermina again fifty one years, nine months, and four days Florentine Ariza is dauntless and never ever gives up even the slightest sliver of hope Nothing could shake this manAnd how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going he asked.Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights Forever, he said. The Heart of Darkness Death Decay There is so much I would like to say about this amazing novel There are so many themes that could be explored But in this review I will try to focus on the Beginning and the Ending of this intricately structured novel, and try to tease out the the thread that explains the absence of Magic The whole novel is too broad a canvas to be explored in a review For this, I limit myself to the broad themes of Death, Decay Redemption, and allow the political, ecological, societal and personal aspects of these themes to play themselves out below the current, so to speak.The Institutions of Love Inventing Love He was aware that he did not love her He had married her because he liked her haughtiness, her seriousness, her strength, and also because of some vanity on his part, but as she kissed him for the first time he was sure there would be no obstacle to their inventing true love They did not speak of it that first night, when they spoke of everything until dawn, nor would they ever speak of it But in the long run, neither of them had made a mistake. The theme of Juvenal s love story is about the incompatibility of love and social convention, the conflict between desire and social life It is quite easily the crucial conundrum the novel wants to solve the other to the novel s essence Security, order, happiness can these when added together in the right proportions provide an equation for Love For the sort of Love that can stop the decay that seems to have beset the entire world Apparently not It is not enough.Through Juvenal s invented Love, M rquez is not simply criticizing the institution of marriage, instead he is criticizing the very illusion that allows this the illusion that the world and the worldly goods and pleasures can produce Love Instead M rquez wants to show that it is Love that can create or recreate the world.Ultimately Love is love of Love itself, not merely the desire for its actual attainment or even the act of its fulfillment Passion is its own object.Pitted against such an impossible ideal, all convention or institutionalization obstructs love s ultimate goal, which is to forestall death and decay.The ultimate goal of Love is to save the world, to create it anew.Gerontophobia Ecocide Destroying LoveSo why is this world so much in need of saving The cosmic decline in Love seems to be the cause for alarm, the cause for the pervasive decay that invades the world of the novel Everything in this novel, from the environment, to the city, to the rebels, to the civil wars, to the people, to the pets are ancient as if they were part of this earth from the very beginning, but everybody is in the throes of love And everything ancient is also decaying, sliding slowly towards the final end of death so is the sadness and the conventional love represented by Juvenal.But it is not just about the human lives M rquez writes as much about places as about people This one is also about the death of a river, of a town, of a society or murder, rather Of Nature s Old Age inflicted prematurely by youthful humanity.This is the ecological sub theme of the novel It is the river, finally, the Great Magdalena in Spanish, the river of life that highlights this for us The abundant nature that surrounds the town is caught in a process of irreversible decay Alligators, manatees, monkeys, and birds disappear from the jungle toward the end, the riverboats have difficulty finding enough wood for their boilers While the political urgency of this topic is clear, cosmic decline in Love in the Time of Cholera has a different meaning and is linked to the theme of the interruption of love discussed before.Paralleling the old age of his characters with the decay envisioned by this ecological wasteland of their own making , M rquez is pointing out to us the true nature of Decay of Humans and their self inflicted sufferings bringing the decay of old age upon themselves and upon the whole of nature.This is the central tenet of the novel Love in the Time of Decay.However, there is And M rquez is not afraid to set this counter theme out in the very opening scene itself The Sweet Smell of Bitter Almonds Counter to the dark theme of decay that is to be developed for most of the rest of the plot, early in the novel, an act of brave revolt against this inevitability establishes the counter current against the steady march of decay J r miah de Saint Amour soon forgotten and never again mentioned takes this revolutionary step again drawing our attention the continuous revolution in which the political life of the novel is set by choosing to die before decay sets in This act initiates the long debate that runs throughout the novel about Love and its objective are we to preserve Love at the expense of Life or to preserve Life through Love By raising this question so early, by calculating his suicide long beforehand, by choosing to end the world than to let it go to rot, to see it rot, Saint Amour stays alive through the rest of the novel, haunting it Being a witness to the decay of love was the most unbearable to Saint Amour, the Saint of Love What we see dramatized at the end of the book, however, is the possibility of genuine passion and romance in old age There is a clear contrast between Saint Amour s suicide and the protracted love life of Florentino Ariza, but it is a contrast that conceals a profound affinity Saint Amour kills himself to preserve his body from decay, to fix its image, as it were, through death.Love and decay, then, constitute the double focus of this novel, the former being present in countless ways throughout Love in The Time of CholeraThe Post Apocalyptic Paradisehis mother was terrified because his condition did not resemble the turmoil of love so much as the devastation of cholera. Every page of this novel is rammed full of love, beyond the capacity of any reader to fully comprehend Love is in the air like Malaria and in the water, like Cholera its infections are inescapable All aspects of love are covered in exquisite detail from teenage love to old age from sexual to rapine to platonic from formal courtship to marital to unconsummated to unrequited love to the excesses of suicide and adultery from the mundane normalcy of love to the incestuous abnormalities.The reader has to consider carefully in the midst of this overwhelming abundance and variety the treatment that M rquez gives to love in this novel Love in the novel is not the purely romantic love carefree, easy flowing, spontaneous, and idealized.Instead, the novel s great affirmation of romance, is in the face not just of a hostile or prosaic world, but of the darker side of romance itself.It is Operatic, Quixotic Dionysian Love that is celebrated It is Love as the Second Coming Sailing The River of Love The Voyage of Re Birth Youth, Love, Old Age Death The Four Unknowns This should have been the order of Life.However, in this world of M rquez, the only ages that can hope to be able love live seem to the Young and the Old In between lies the desert the only time we are allowed to live when not capable of love It is a paradox on which the very survival of this fictional universe seems to depend on.Love and Life cannot coexist then The solution is to give up the life they know for Love To take the ultimate leap of faith.So hoist a yellow flag on the Ship of your Life Second Fidelity and sail on the Great Magdalena in Spanish, the river of life in a State of Emergency Let Love in the Time of Cholera be the entirety of the River of Life Love should now destroy that earlier Life instead, just as Cholera can squeeze it out And then be reborn, afresh.The novel ends with the central characters challenging their entire social world and the very conditions of their existence by their grand romantic gesture, by their final, and what seems like eternal, trip on the Magdalena river This is the necessary reaction to the decay that is fast on the route to complete extinction, to death Love and Cholera will both go extinct otherwise, rooted out by Life. Love is shown as the redeeming force that saves both humanity, nature, culture and history It appears as a divine force that defies everything As if in biblical terms, the novel seems to assert that it is not yet too late to stop the end of humanity and to reach out for grace and happiness.Most importantly, never allow the Yellow Flag to be questioned Sustain the ardor Maintain the symptoms of Cholera Love The pestilence is to be maintained at all costs Only then will the world let you sail on.Of course, the novel ends with the reader wondering if Fermina and Florentino will ever be able to come ashore and exercise their second chance.We are left to question this act for ourselves How do we save the world By Escape into an Unrealistic Fantasy Or is love real The answer, at least inside M rquez s world is quite clear.This final triumph is exquisitely multi layered Fermina and Florentino will remain isolated from the real contagion of their earlier Life by allowing their Love to be disguised as Cholera They are not rejecting the world, they are allowing the world to reject them instead.The quarantine is really against love, the sickness that society will not, can not tolerate, the sickness that society fear as much as a deadly epidemic, the sickness that the society fears will wipe it out.Instead it is that very sickness, which is recognized by conventional society as its biggest scourge, that saves the characters from extinction, along with the manatees, the alligators, and the monkeys.It is Love that saves all in the end at least we are left to imagine that possibility Now, in this Post Apocalyptic Paradise, age is of no consequence Life has been transmuted and preserved by Love, like Saint Amour s Love by death.Life has been reborn in the Second Coming of Love Love, in short, will always be in the time of cholera, under the Yellow Flag s protection THE INFINITE CAPACITY FOR ILLUSION The Will to Lyricism So, now we can come back to the question we started with of the Absence of Magic.In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the apocalypse came in spite of Magic, in Love in the Time of Cholera, redemption comes despite its absence Unlike the death that starts off One Hundred Years of Solitude, here that death, the suicide, is ultimately sublimated into love and decay is arrested in its unreality In fact reality has instead been reinvented in their own terms, where previous reality was rejected outright.The capacity for illusion is magic enough to save the world, and our souls This Infinite Capacity for Illusion can bring on the required apocalypse and we can live as if the Kingdom of Heaven Cholera was already here on earth, under that banner of protection Only then can the Magic return. I learned that I will never be a great writer, because sometimes, there are people like Marquez, who manage to write such an amazing piece of art without making it ponderous, pretentious, or difficult It s not really about the plot, is it A guy is in love with a girl, and waits for her for 50 odd years, while conducting his own affairs Here s the thing, though The way the story is told is segue free, almost conversational, but with such sumptuous detail and description, that it can only be explained as an absolute justification specifically for the written word No other format for this story would be good enough It made me crave to read it in the original Spanish, though There were paragraphs that I knew did not carry the same weight in English and this translation is really beautiful that it would have in Spanish Amazing book Really Please read it. One of the few writers I have read who can show sex convincingly on the page, so that it reinforces character and extends action, and doesn t become a narrative sinkhole in which entropy prevails.Depressingly great One of those books one knows one could never write yet still one wishes pointlessly that one could do so.Laden with vivid detail It moves almost flawlessly, from sequence to sequence with nary a foot put wrong in terms of diction or tone.Relentless storytelling, like diamonds pouring endlessly from a sack Enormous reading pleasure A bit too lacrhymose toward the end for my taste, but this is a quibble On the whole a shattering novel despite it conventional structure.Warmly recommended.