The Cubs and Other Stories is a collection of stories that are unrelated in plot and character, but share themes and setting. The title story, "The Cubs," is about a youth in Peru growing up after having been emasculated in an accident, and the frustration he feels knowing he can't share the sexual experiences of his peers. This is followed by "The Leaders," about a group of high school boys who try to organize a school strike in protest against the principal's unfair policies. Their efforts, however, are impeded by the rivalry amongst the boys for influence and supremacy.
Most of the rest of the stories deal as well with Peru's urban youth, depicting their adolescent frustrations and self-destructive behavior. The author is perhaps also metaphorically representing the helplessness and frustration of the Peruvian people who were, at the time of his writing, under the heels of a military dictatorship.
The stark, masculine realism of Vargas Llosa's early stories should appeal to anyone who likes Hemingway.