Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Love in the time of child abuse
I fucking adore Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books, but right off the bat I have to address that Love in the time of Cholera involves eroticizing children and statutory rape. There are large parts of the novel where this issue isn't an issue, but the story is bookended by a man who at twenty is courting a girl of 15 and who at 80 is having sex with his 15 year old ward. This is uncomfortable, this is creepy, this is inappropriate, and I think that all of that is fundamental to the statement that Marquez was trying to make about the brokenness of the character. He's a man whose entire life revolves around one failed relationship, who does nothing for himself, and who is deeply, tremendously, flawed.
The other characters DO have flaws, but none so severe that they end up raping children. The book is a peculiarly dispassionate examination of love affairs and the traps that people make for themselves. It's set in a filthy universe that's backward and literally stagnant, and full of people who can't quite escape from the various diseases that infect their lives.
It's a story of several lifetimes, of several loves, and of how different all of those things can be. It's a beautiful novel, one that sounds sweet and feels bitter as you progress through the world occupied by the characters. It was lovely to read much of the book, but frustrating and dull in places. I enjoyed Love in the time of Cholera, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to read again.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Love in the Time of Cholera. Penguin Books. New York:
New York. 1989. (1985).