I’ve always have difficulties when writing about Love in the Time of Cholera. Not because of the novel’s explicit motifs, but due to the way many individuals (who I suspect aren’t familiar with certain aspects of Caribbean, Latin, Hispanic… culture) tend to react to the story.
For instance, a person suggested that the characters are too “immoral” to be likable. Another individual recommended the book to “people who enjoy torturing themselves” and her review of the work only contained the words: “perverts, sex offenders, and jerks.” Someone who truly hated the novel, wrote, “this is romance at its most frustrating. why do all these epic, sweeping love stories involve loving someone from afar? Haven’t we moved beyond that petrarchan form of idealized love? hasn’t beatrice left the building? why is waiting and self-sacrificing the ultimate testament to passion?”
As I read the words of these reviewers, I almost want to reach out and ask, “Did you notice where the story is set? Would you please define morality? While you are it, did you check the time-period? And not to sound too contrary, but if you didn’t want to read a story about corruption, suffering, relationships defined by money and power, and romance so heart-ripping terrible that it makes even the most open-minded of us cringe a bit, then why did you choose a title written by an author who has always told it like it is?”
I would ask all this because every person I quoted above claims to have read (and loved) One Hundred Years of Solitude. And you know what, my Wicked Luvs? There is less depravity in Love in the Time of Cholera than in the aforementioned title. There is graphic sex in both books and many inappropriate relationships as well. So much of it, that if the reader isn’t careful, the bare-butts and gasping breasts will fill his or her brain with shadows. And those shades of lust and debauchery tend to veil the real story: the lives of a group of people who barely exist while they are being watched by society, for their realities are spent in their heads and hearts and in rooms stinking of sweat, self-hatred, and deception that tries to pass for tradition, faith and decorum.
Gabriel García Márquez writes beautiful, intelligent prose about horrible realities; and Love in the Time of Cholera is an example of just that. Reading this novel without keeping in mind that it describes a time, place and culture different from our current lives (let’s hope!), can be rather problematic… even scary. This is my third time reading this book, and I still wince when I read sections I already knew were there.
I recommend Love in the Time of Cholera in the same way I recommend the Bible to friends who say that they haven’t read it because it makes them uncomfortable and they don’t believe in it. Well, some of the reading makes me uneasy, too, but exploring the content is one of the first steps towards understanding a very large group of people. I don’t know about you, my Luvs, but I believe knowing is way more than half the battle.
“Florentino Ariza wrote everything with so much passion that even official documents seem to be about love. His bills of lading were rhymed no matter how he tried to avoid it, and routine business letters had a lyrical spirit that diminished their authority.”
~ Love in the Time of Cholera
~ Love in the Time of Cholera
This is the content of the letter (the thought bubble says “Seeing read and fuming red, too”):
Dear Europa Pre-Paid Phone Card,
I was ill-treated by you. I paid for your services, expecting an afternoon full of a warm and excitable British accent. Instead, my friend and I found ourselves requiring the help of social media in order to be able to discuss why you are worthless.
I want my money back, EPPPC! If you have any shame, you’ll look for a way to make it up to me. I do not deserve what you have done. And if you can’t understand why I feel so hurt, then you are worthless and stupid.
Return what belongs to me without much delay.
WW in New York
Wicked Writer in New York