“ Beautiful writing” sums up what I would say about this book, but there is always more to be told in the background. I cannot get out of my head the recurrent voice of a goodread’s reader who said that this is a case of a good writer who spends time writing about less worthy subjects. There is a picture of Gabriel giving the middle finger on the great internet, so I believe that settles the problem of public opinion.
The first few pages of this book were difficult to get into, until I read about the parrot. A mischievous parrot and a man who considers the occupation of teaching the parrot the Latin accompaniment to the Mass ,selected passages from the Gospel according to St. Mathew ,as well as getting it to have an idea of the working notion of the four arithmetic functions , is sure to get my attention. I am a fan of such madness and so from then on, the book was bound to be read.
The parrot of course is not the subject of this book, even though it set things in motion by deliberately getting itself in all kinds of trouble like getting out of his cage and in full sight of an old Dr.Urbino, who could not resist the temptation to bring it back by climbing a tree like a young man and falling to his death. This is a complex book with the theme of love, obsession and very little cholera in it, or rather none.
Love is an obsession for Florentino Aziza and sex too. A lot of fornication. The number is 662 women. Florentino is a man who had had his mental faculties sprayed with the perfume of rumination enough to sustain him for half a century as he obsesses over the unrequited love of his youth. Fermina Daza while shopping for her imagined future life as his wife , after exchanging feverish love letters and enduring separation from this love, becomes disillusioned as she finally meets the bald man, leaving her to wonder at how she had ever entertained the idea of love. All she utters as she moves on is ‘ poor man’.
Florentino is indeed a poor man as he cannot write official documents to save his life. Poetry oozes out of the pores of his skull onto his fingers. He is dreamy and fantastically useless to anything outside the boundary of supposed love.
Reading this book, I realized that love is fed and people can fall in love with different people. As much as I would like to paint Florentino in bad light because of how filled he was with the pervert’s desires as he violated the innocence of a young ward in his charge instead of fulfilling the role of a guardian, and of the two deaths of married women he had seduced with the resultant enragement of their husbands to murder, I still think he had a little bit of goodness in him, in the way he treated the black woman Leona Cassiana, the one he had mistaken for a prostitute, but respected the boundaries she set. And I think he loved many of those women he slept with and maintained contact with. I believe it, indeed , I do, brethren.
Fermina Daza is a bland woman in my opinion to have evoked such obsessive behavior in Daza, but obsession is not rational. She is strong willed, haughty, cold, and these are really the reasons both Urbino, whom she later marries and Daza get attracted to her. Urbino seems like a saint in this book, maybe because he dies early enough and maybe because he committed adultery just one time compared to Florentino, or maybe it is because he made me laugh by the explanation of the uselessness of his male body part to his naïve bride. I’d never imagined it possible for a doctor to be so scientific on the day of sexual penetration. But humor is humor mainly because of the ridiculousness of it divergence from the normal. To say simply ‘ I loved it’.
In the end, things do end stupidly or rather without us really knowing, but I don’t mind. Inconclusive endings do not bother me, especially since I learnt that a couple could fight over the lack of soap in the bathroom, and no not for one day, two days, or the perfect three days, but for months…how many? Find out