Sam Leith

Sex and Senility

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

By

Jonathan Cape 115pp £10 order from our bookshop

As opening lines go, it’s undoubtedly an eyecatcher: ‘The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.’ Lord alone knows what they put in the water in South America, but I want some. Consider, though, aside from the goatish premise and the gentle self-mockery of ‘wild love’, how that sentence sets out Márquez’s stall. That phrase: ‘give myself the gift’. It implies, first, that there’s nobody else to give the narrator a present; and it hints too at his extraordinary self-absorption. Also, there’s the suggestion of a transaction – the adolescent virgin’s participation in the festivities is, as it were, in the narrator’s gift. She’s a sure thing. She’s a whore. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,