None of us had eaten Colombian food before, so Casa Vieja was an adventure. They have a juice menu, which you can choose from for your margarita flavors, and the food menu is loaded with various plates (mostly involving meat). I tried tongue for the first time, and it was...interesting...but ultimately fine. The plantains and fried yucca were good, but the mushy, stir-fried yucca takes some getting used to. I was too busy downing mojitos and arguing over the book to remember what everyone else thought of the food.
Notwithstanding its pathetically cliché premise of a man waiting half a century to have the woman he loves, this is not a straightforward romance by any means. In fact, the characters are so incredibly flawed as to almost seem real. Though Urbino is, save one outrageous affair, a steady husband, their marriage is a grand, antithetical construction in which two humans delicately parade around one another in set patterns. On the other hand, Florentino's obsessions make him positively disgusting and erase any sense of his identity separate from his "love" for Fermina. Additionally, in his pursuit of love, Florentino becomes a sexual predator, proving his disregard for the objects of his passions.
If this is starting to sound like a horrible book, you may be right--or at least Megan will agree with you. This novel is not going to satisfy any sane person's sense of justice, but there is much to argue about regarding its titular theme. Natalie reads it as an intense study on the idea of false love, claiming that though they believe they do, none of the principal characters experiences real love. But the cynic could draw from this idea to say none of us experiences fantastical, perfect, storybook love, or at least no one does for very long.
This is probably where my review should end, but it feels as if I've left little or no recommendation regarding the novel. I love this book. Its density and deceptive simplicity make for an immersive reading experience. Even when I wasn't reading, I was imagining what the characters were doing. Even when I knew where the story was headed, it upended my expectations. Even in translation, the images and ambiguities are powerful. Marquez' world is both sensual and revolting, and if we see love as anything, it's as a sickness that destroys even as it revives.
In summer an invisible dust as harsh as red-hot chalk was blown into even the best-protected corners of the imagination by mad winds that took the roofs off the houses and carried away children through the air.
At nightfall, at the oppressive moment of transition, a storm of carnivorous mosquitoes rose out of the swamps, and a tender breath of human shit, warm and sad, stirred the certainty of death in the depths of one's soul.
But first he enjoyed the immediate pleasure of smelling a secret garden in his urine that had been purified by lukewarm asparagus.
"You scoundrel!" he shouted. The parrot answered in an identical voice: "You're even more of a scoundrel, Doctor."
She reminded him that the weak would never enter the kingdom of love, which is a harsh and ungenerous kingdom...
Set on its own garbage heap, at the mercy of capricious tides, it was the spot where the bay belched filth from the sewers back onto land. The offal from the adjoining slaughterhouse was also thrown away there--severed heads, rotting viscera, animal refuse that floated, in sunshine and starshine, in a swamp of blood.
"Not even Jonah's wife would swallow that story."