Iran vs. The Whores

November 16th, 2007 at 4:19 pm

With the film adaptation of his magnificent “Love in the Time of Cholera” now in theatres, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s most recent book, “Memories of My Melancholy Whores,” is making news in Iran with that backwards country pursuing censorship and a puritanical ignorance of art.

“Memories” was initially published in Iran with the title “Memories of My Melancholy Sweethearts” and sold out 5,000 copies in three weeks before angered religious conservatives demanded the book be banned. The ministry of culture and Islamic guidance then refused to issue a permit for the book’s reprinting.

Ohhhhhhhhh! Ministry of culture and Islamic guidance?…….creepy……..You think “1984″ is banned in Iran too?

The first sentence of “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” reveals the book’s primary plot: “The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.”

Despite such a rather lurid premise, the slender book is touching and warm. In the hands of a Master such as Marquez, the crude plot device becomes not so and the book becomes about so much more than some creepy old guy trying to bone a 14-year-old. The book is worldly and knowing, as would be expected from an aging, accomplished writer such as Marquez. I’ve read it. I wish Iran could too.

I feel sincerely bad for Iran’s readers that they must live under this and far worse oppression. In America, we live under the oppression of capitalism, slaves to the whims of the market and therefore miss many, many great and wonderful books (ideas, thoughts) simply because they do not sell or are deemed unsellable. But somehow I do feel that Iran has it worse, that some stodgy man sees a book with the word “whore” in the title, reads the premise, and excises the book from an entire country’s library.

Don’t you get the feeling that irony is lost on a major portion of this world?

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