Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman.
First published 2004; translation 2005
An old man wants to celebrates his 90th birthday by sleeping with a young virgin.
This is a man who has spent his whole life in pursuit of prurient pleasures as a form of art. He has never married and lived all his life alone working as a journalist. At 90 and fearful of death, when he stands at the edge of the virgin’s bed, before he does anything, and before he knows it, he falls in love with her – falls in love for the first time in his life!
Love descends on him with its disturbing components: he expects loyalty from the girl but can’t see how a girl of 14 would love back an almost-dead man.
Despite this he suffers from pangs of jealousy when he suspects she’s been sleeping with other customers. Things begin to awry from that point on and he desperately tries to forget her and move on. But can he?
The novella explores questions of old age, self-image, loyalty, and to fall in love at a time when only a tiny bit of life is left for you to live.
Despite it’s title and the storyline the novel is not at all sexually graphic or frivolous in how it deals with the concupiscent life of the main character.
I won’t say it is as good as other Marquez novels but it is a pleasurable read, short and direct. 4/5.