You’ll want to know what the 14-year-old, naked next to the 90-year-old man, sees when she looks at herself, but alas, it’s...

MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES

An erotic novella from Colombian Nobel laureate García Márquez (Living to Tell the Tale, 2003, etc.), his first fiction in ten years.

The hero is a Colombian journalist who describes himself as second-rate. But García Márquez, perennially enraptured by the wonderful, can’t quite make him lackluster and gives him a newspaper column that has run for 50 years and readers who follow his work with breathless interest. On his 90th birthday, the nameless journalist, who says he had paid to have sex with 514 women by the age of 50, asks a madam to procure a virgin. On the first of many occasions, he enters the room to discover the naked 14-year-old girl asleep. Throughout the year, he obsesses over her; writes columns about her that drive his readers into a frenzy; and kisses her everywhere and reads to her as she sleeps—but never consummates the relationship sexually or sees her awake. Once, when she murmurs something, dreaming, he thinks, “That was when the last shadow of doubt disappeared from my soul: I preferred her asleep.” For anyone who regards the barest prerequisite for a relationship as both partners being conscious and of the age of consent, the scenario is disturbing. There is no indication—unless it is the word “melancholy” in the title—that García Márquez means his tale to be the parody of macho idiocy it appears to be. His hero ends revitalized and radiantly optimistic, while readers are left wondering, “Can he be serious?” What can’t be dismissed, however, is García Márquez’s gift for the casually adept insight. The narrator, for example, catches sight of himself in a store window: “I didn’t look the way I felt but older, dressed in shabbier clothes.”

You’ll want to know what the 14-year-old, naked next to the 90-year-old man, sees when she looks at herself, but alas, it’s never revealed.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-4460-X

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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