Exhibit 13.12

Love in the Time of Cholera

As I mentioned previously, I bought this book a few years back (and since the receipt was in the book I actually know exactly when: June 13, 2003, one month after I moved to Lincoln. Apparently I graduated from college, moved to Lincoln, bought plates and silverware for the first time, and then decided I needed Love in the Time of Cholera to finish my transition from undergraduate to adult jerknozzle).

The two or three times I picked it up with the intention of reading it always ended with me giving up at about page 15 for more interesting books and, even after finishing it, even after enjoying it mostly, I don't think I was wrong. It's not at all bad, but I can't help but read it as a bit of a victory lap after the incredible One Hundred Years of Solitude (and, probably more pertinent to Marquez himself, the Nobel Prize he'd already won). Every page seems to have been written with the intention of doing something epic, but despite the staggering depth of our knowledge of the two lovers, in the end it's hard for me to see anything except the fairly shallow story of a love triangle only seen as such by one corner.

The plot--a boy decides to never stop loving his young crush yet doesn't get a chance to win her heart until they are both elderly--is pretty genius and every one of Marquez's sentences is packed to the nouns with remarkable insight and detail, but it's all treated with the same seriousness and scope as his Macondo. It's possible I'm just cynical, but it's not clear anything Marquez has to say about love (it can be a sickness like cholera! it changes over time! it can corrupt and pervert!) needed to have been treated with such seriousness. It's a book that, despite its clear merits, that ends up quite a bit less alive than his earlier work. The one twist, such as it is, seems to be that the dedicated lover Florentino isn't really a figure we're supposed to revere though Marquez does his best not to judge the character's clear deficiencies (not least of which is his seduction of a 12-year-old girl he's charged with looking after).

It's also possible I'm just too naive to have really been sucked in by the lengthy section of the book between the silly passion of their youthful love and the amazing quiet of their geriatric love. The majority of the book deals with the vagaries of marriage and when I liked the book the least I imagined that I was experiencing a highbrow, literary version of a sitcom like, say, According to Jim called Marriage Is Weird or maybe What's the Deal with Love? That's not nearly fair, but there is a certain upperclass domesticity to everything that happens in the middle of the book which is where the lifelessness seems to be seeping in. During these pages the most interesting characters (e.g. the heroine's criminal but upwardly mobile father, a black woman who guides Florentino's career) disappear so that we can go into the details of each small fight inside of marriage and each affair conducted outside of it. Like I said, marriage is weird. Also, this love thing seems to have some kind of, I don't know, deal.

The book as a whole is much greater than its most sentimental and middle-aged moments, and, in the end, from any other author it would probably be a defining work. Marquez just so happens to be capable of much greater magic in both prose and intention that it's a bit of a tepid achievement for me. Still, it's a great title and, if nothing else, we can all take pleasure in the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of people who want to impress a date listing this as their favorite book in order to seem like soft-hearted romantics. The book's take on love seems to contradict this usage, but who am I to argue with John Cusack?

On a completely unrelated note, my favorite television show is Love, What the Eff, Yo?

No comments: