|About the Book|
LET ME EXPLAIN, GUYS.Okay. I like Marquez. I think his writing is beautiful, his settings are evocative and masterfully portrayed, and yes, his books are pretty romantic, and I always enjoy magical realism (this one could have used more of that last bit, though). The last twenty pages of the book even manged to suck me into the romance of the story, and I found myself finally really invested in this love story instead of being vaguely creeped out (well get there). Look, I even found a really nice passage to quote:It was as if they had leapt over the arduous calvary of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love. They were together in silence like an old married couple wary of life, beyond the pitfalls of passion, beyond the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion: beyond love. For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.See? Thats fucking beautiful, and even if I didnt like the story itself, I still liked the writing. So call off the dogs, Marquez apologists, and lets get to the ranting portion of the review.Fair warning to all who proceed past this point: I am preparing to don my Feminist Rage hat and shout about rape culture. Those who plan to leave mean comments calling me an idiot or telling me that I misunderstood the book, remember that you were warned. BEWARE, FOR HERE BE DRAGONS AND ANGRY FEMINISTS.Heres something I learned about myself while reading this: I have absolutely no patience for books about obsession disguised as love. I hated it in Twilight, I hated it in Wuthering Heights, I hated it in The Phantom of the Opera, and I hated it here. It would be one thing, I decided, if Fermina Daza felt as passionately about Florentino Ariza as he felt about her. But she didnt love him. For her, their romance was a brief fling in her teens, and she stopped loving him when she returned from her trip. She continued not loving him, until he wears her down (after writing her letters constantly despite her explicitly telling him to fuck off out of her life) and she basically shrugs her shoulders and says, fine, might as well.The lesson men can take from this book is that if a woman says no (as Fermina frequently and clearly says to Florentino), she really means, make me change my mind. NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE. THIS PHILOSOPHY IS NOT OKAY AND IT IS WHY RAPE CULTURE EXISTS. NO MEANS FUCKING NO, EVERYBODY. IF A WOMAN TELLS YOU TO LEAVE HER ALONE, YOU LEAVE HER THE FUCK ALONE. IT IS NOT ROMANTIC TO OBSESS ABOUT HER FOR FIFTY YEARS, IT IS CREEPY.And OF COURSE Florentino still fucks anything that moves while claiming to be in love with Fermina, because he is a man and thats just how it works. Which leads me to my next ranting point: this book romanticizes rape.(you can still get out, guys - its only going to get worse from here)First there was the intensely unsettling way Florentino loses his virginity: while traveling on a ship, a woman drags him into her cabin and forces him to have sex with her. Then Florentino falls in love with her. Because of course he does. I was willing to chalk this scene up to the common misconception that men cannot be sexually assaulted because men are horny dogs who are always up for sex no matter what - fine, whatever, Ill let it go. But then later, a minor female character describes the time she got raped, and Im going to let you guys read this while I do yoga breaths in the corner and count to ten slowly:When she was still very young, a strong, able man whose face she never saw took her by surprise, threw her down on the jetty, ripped her clothes off, and made instantaneous and frenetic love to her. Lying there on the rocks, her body covered with cuts and bruises, she had wanted that man to stay forever so she could die of love in his arms....Once more with feeling: NOPE.AND THEN, as the creepy pedophilic cherry on top of this rape sundae, Florentinos last affair is with a child. When he is in his sixties. The best part is that he doesnt even use the classic pedophiles defense of yes, shes young, but she ACTS like a grown woman! No, Florentino sees that this child is going to be smoking hot when she grows up, and decides that he cant wait that long. Then this passage happens:She was still a child in every sense of the word, with braces on her teeth and the scrapes of elementary school on her knees, but he saw right away the kind of woman she was soon going to be, and he cultivated her during a slow year of Saturdays at the circus, Sundays in the park with ice cream, childish late afternoons, and he won her confidence, he won her affection, he led her by the hand, with the gentle astuteness of a kind grandfather, toward his secret slaughterhouse.The hero of Love in the Time of Cholera, ladies and gentlemen. Lets give him a round of applause.If anyone wants to join me in the corner, I will be staying here for the rest of the week.