From The Desk Of Luther Russell: “Memories Of My Melancholy Whores” By Gabriel García Márquez

You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing all week.

Russell: I recently finished reading this 2004 novella by the late, great Colombian writer. It’s about a lecherous journalist who, having just celebrated a his 90th birthday, seeks sex with a young prostitute who’s selling her virginity to help her family. In this underage teen, he discovers love for the first time in his life. I know, I know … it sounds horrifying. And, yes, the lead character is cunning codger who has unabashedly paid for sex his whole life, so as not to complicate it. He’s a perverted old coot, but an honest old coot nonetheless. He proclaims himself a “mediocre” journalist and that he’s “ugly, shy and anachronistic.” He mentions that he never went to bed with a woman “that he didn’t pay” and was twice-named “client of the year” in the red-light district he has frequented for decades. But the man hates how he’s led his long and predictable life and is ready to change, albeit for love. This book is really about Márquez’s favorite subject: time. And I believe that in this book he really evokes a sense of age and how it can slip by without notice, even nine decades of it. And all one’s left with is now. Forever now and what to do with it. Ultimately, it’s a story of transition and tells it expressively and passionately. The translation is pretty fantastic, and the writing is kaleidoscopic, almost visionary, as one would come to expect from the much-celebrated Márquez.