Love in the Time of Cholera Might Make the Reader Cringe a Bit

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.

My Artful Readers Club March entry was inspired by this typical Márquez quote:
“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
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.

Awfully disillusioned,
WW in New York
Wicked Writer in New York

30 comments:

  1. What happened with the EP3C card?

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    1. At the risk of sounding lost, um... What's an "EP3C card"? Gods! How I detest not knowing... ;-(

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    2. Hahaha! I just got it. I'm so slow!!!

      The damn things are still not working. And after hours with their costumer service, I had to take a break.

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  2. I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, but never seem to get to it. Every time I hear the title of this book I am reminded of a favorite film, "Serendipity".
    Mary

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    1. If you get to it, do let me know how you like it.

      I love Serendipity!

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  3. Never had much use for critic's....constructive criticism , must be balanced for me...the good ..the bad BUT
    why for each is a must......then I take it from where it comes. ( actually I don't take at all)
    Not reading this book , but watching the movie, only because I respect the artistic choices of the actor!s , especially Penelope Cruz's husband ? Sorry , I enjoyed the intellectual level it took me! ( stop smiling) the watcher.
    Now! as usual, you have provoked me to read yet another BOOK!

    You really should write book reviews.....professionally ...xoxoDebi

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    1. Some people are truly strange in the way they choose to approach art. I always wonder why... But hey, that is what makes the world go round and round--there are all kinds of us in the universe.

      Professional reviewer, huh? Now there is thought...

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  4. The critics here are enough to make me want to finally read Marquez. I've always preferred books about people who live on the fringes. Seriously, what is interesting about a seemingly normal person who leads a virtuous life? I'll take the perverts and sociopaths over the normal any day.

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    1. Sometimes the honesty (even when squeezed out of them) of "perverts and sociopaths" is more welcoming than the illusions we get from some.

      Márquez's work rocks!

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  5. How can one judge and form relationships with characters in a period novel without considering the time, the place and the situations? It is my experience, that I enjoy these stories most by immersing myself in the lives of the characters and their world, not by dragging them into mine.

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    1. I always feel the need to repeat your comments. You always find a way to say exactly what some part to me was thinking, but I didn't quite know it: " I enjoy these stories most by immersing myself in the lives of the characters and their world, not by dragging them into mine."

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  6. Gabriel García Márquez is an author I have been wanting to revisit after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude...I love how he is able to take words and make pictures with them...as when describing ice to someone who has never seen or touched it before. Love in the Time of Cholera will definitely be moved to the top of my list of books I need to add to my collection. Thank you Magaly for the brilliant review and appropriate art journal entry.

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    1. I truly enjoy his writing. Some of it is sad and terrifying, but he finds a way to make the reading journey bearable and worth taking. And hilarious. I don't know how he does it, but wow, the man has style!

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  7. Wait. Immoral characters aren't likable? I am so screwed as a writer, then. I think books that make the reader uncomfortable are actually good. A nice tidy happy ending is, of course, enjoyable, but it doesn't inspire much. I'd be putting all those negative reviews up as positive feedback were I the author. I also suggest "thought bubbles" on tax-forms from this date forward...

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    1. I think we need to sit down with a bunch of people and we all need to write out definition of "immoral." I suspect they will be quite different from each other. Let's take your Mabel Bunt as an example. The woman is a harlot, but few monks can claim her sense of morality. The woman is a wicked angel.

      You "tax-form" comment made me giggle. ;-)

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    2. Currently she is an unfinished Harlot (The best kind...), but I take your point. I think if we have to limit ourselves to moral tales we're going to die as a species- of boredom...

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  8. I have never read either book, but after reading your letter in the manner of, I want to!

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    1. Hooray! for spreading the Márquez!

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    2. I agree, I want to read it too ;o)

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  9. Not read it, yet. It's on the list! Honest! As for the Bible, I tend to read it for the lyricism, because the KJV was bashed out of the English language about the same time as Shakespeare was flaunting his stuff. Never get much further than the Song of Solomon, though. Love the journal! Phone cards? Those things can spoil your whole day. :(

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    1. Would I be a terrible individual if I said that another reason for my reading of the Bible is the fact that it contains some of the bloodiest scenes I've ever read about?

      Phone cards and I aren't speaking right now.

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    2. Not to mention incest, torture, the threesome and the most positive LGBT romance in literature. Hail King David!

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    3. Yep. Mhm. He was indeed, The King, lol!

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  10. "I enjoy these stories most by immersing myself in the lives of the characters and their world, not by dragging them into mine." That really was a brilliant observation by Eliora!

    I haven't read the book so I can't offer anything on that subject, however I LOVE your lyrical letter to Europa Pre-Paid Phone Card! :D

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    1. Especially the cans with the string! LOL

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    2. Gabriel García Márquez's work made me fall in love with reading and writing. The man has a way with words... and with a "Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.

      Glad you liked the cans with strings, they made me giggle. ;-D

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  11. Did they refund your money (hilarious)! I read 'a hundred years' a hundred years ago, I think may be time for a revisit ;)

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    1. Refund? I can't even get the bastards on the phone. They have weaved a net of press this and press that if you can stand on your head and see Uranus. Maybe I'll try tomorrow one more time.

      Yay for rereading One Hundred Years of Solitude! If you can, get the audiobook. The narrator adds an interesting something to the tale. ;-D

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  12. This is one my mom has recommended to me, and which I still haven't read yet.

    I love the art you made for it. Is that a coffee filter you used?

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    1. Your mom makes some awesome recommendations *wink, wink*.

      You know what? I always forget to talk about the materials I use for journaling. I should write a post about it, and not forget for future entries. Yes, I used recycled coffee filters. ;-)

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