Saturday, December 30, 2017

Saturday Matinee: Love in the Time of Cholera


I’m going to risk being heretical today. I’ve just finished reading Gabriel García Márquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera and I can tell you it was a labor of love. My love of finishing what I’ve started even when I find it in turns tedious and a tad distasteful, the male protagonist little more than an obsessed stalker. 


Here’s how the publisher sums up the book

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

Written by the author of 100 Years of Solitude, the novel that earned the writer the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, the writing feels too almost rich for its’ subject. As near as I can tell, the book is almost universally lauded, at least by those literary critics types who count. A romantic myself, I admit I like the notion of two people who’ve loved each other early on—but the wrong place and the wrong time dooming their love to failure—coming together at last. 



That these two people would find each other later in life is a lovely idea, and as you can read on Facebook, not a fantasy. It happens all the time. The book jacket announces the book is “a novel of love of in all its guises: young love, married love, romantic love, carnal love, even love with the symptoms of cholera.’’ What I didn’t like was the love-sick obsession of Florentino Aziza with Fermina and the way he pops up time and time again. It’s nothing short of creepy. Also disturbing, the endless descriptions of his physical encounters with other women throughout it all. 

Javier Bardim is Florentino with all his faults

Unax Ugalde plays the young Florentino, much more handsome in the film than he appears in the novel.

622 affairs. I got tired of Florentino’s obsession with Fermina and the lengthy display of stalking. Even their romance begins with Florentino staring at Fermina from afar for months. I grew weary of wading through all his affairs—from the “fat widows’’ to the prostitutes to 13 year old America Vicuna who he is supposed to look after but who he takes to bed when he is 73 and continues to do so every Sunday for years. Later, after he has discarded the girl he has been like a father to, he writes ...
“She was no longer the little girl, the newcomer, whom he had undressed, one article of clothing at a time, with little baby games: first these little shoes for the little baby bear, then this little chemise for the little puppy dog, next these little flowered panties for the little bunny rabbit, and a little kiss kiss on her papa’s delicious little dickey-bird.’’

And people decry Lolita for its’ pedophilia! 



In addition to Javier Bardim as the womanizing Florentino in the 2007 movie, the Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno is Fermina with Benjamin Bratt as Dr. Juvenal Urbino, the man she marries. 



Mike Newell directed, and oh by the way, he’s got a film that’s on 2018's list of Movies Based on Books, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society coming out in April. That’s a book I love, a movie I can’t wait to see. 

To be honest I wouldn’t mind watching this film either. There’s a difference between living with a character for the several days it takes to read a book vs the couple of hours it takes to watch a film. You can stream Love in the Time of Cholera on iTunes, GooglePlay, Amazon, Vudu and YouTube for between $3 and $4. 

Should I shell out the cash or will I find the story just as troublesome as I find the book? 


My take on The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society



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