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The Cubs and Other Stories by Mario Vargas…

The Cubs and Other Stories

by Mario Vargas Llosa

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3.5 stars ( )
  Lynsey2 | Jan 15, 2016 |
All of these short stories are focused on the machismo culture, each shows us a different aspect of how the importance of appearances affects the lives of people. Though each story in itself was ok, I would have preferred to read one story with more depth of characterization.
From a writing perspective, these stories date from the early days of Mario Vargas Llosa's career as a writer and show him experimenting with different styles of storytelling. The version I read has an introduction by the writer.
( )
  sushicat | Jan 14, 2016 |
The six non-title stories in this collection were written when Vargas Llosa was a student between 1953 and 1957 (when he was 17 to 21 years old), which shows a little at times, but overall it’s pretty impressive, given how lean and focused they are, reminiscent of Hemingway. “The Cubs” was written in Paris in 1965 when he was 29, and is different stylistically, with elements of beat authors, such as embedded dialog in the text. It’s interesting to me that in the forward, he says he wanted the story to be “more sung than told”, and wanted the reader to have “the impression of listening, not reading”.

The stories are all about growing up as a young man in Peru in the 50’s. Some examples to give you a flavor: “The Leaders” tells of students who try to organize a strike against their school, only to have difficulty getting everyone to fall in line and vying for control between themselves. “On Sunday” is about a couple of friends who are attracted for the same girl and try to get the better of each other in a beer drinking contest, followed by foolishly swimming in the ocean in the winter. “The Challenge” is about a knife fight on a beach at night. “The Younger Brother” is about a couple of brothers who travel into the mountains to get revenge against an Indian’s offense against their sister. And lastly, “The Cubs” follows a group of friends as they grow up, with one of them going through psychological and social problems after having been emasculated by a vicious dog.

The book is worth reading, particularly if you’re a Vargas Llosa fan. It shows the flashes of his greatness and it moves along briskly, so you’re not stuck in the occasional places where it’s less successful for very long. If you want more substantial ‘early’ Vargas Llosa, though, I’d recommend his first novel, “The Time of the Hero” instead. ( )
1 vote gbill | Sep 7, 2014 |
Seven short stories of Peruvian life and machista culture, six of which were written while the author was still a student. My favourites were "The Challenge", "On Sunday" and "The Cubs". The title story is written in a very interesting style, with the story being narrated by all the residents of the barrio 'dissolving into individual voices and coming together again in one that gives expression to the entire group'. ( )
  isabelx | Mar 23, 2011 |
This is the first of Mario Vargas Llosa that I’ve read and I can see right away how he stood out to win the Nobel Prize last year. The way this one is written well captures the sense of a group of boys growing up and the distance between the narrator now and back in those days. His interspersing the first person plural and the third person plural remind me of how Galgut switches between first and third (singular) in ‘In a strange room’ but here Llosa switches frequently an mid-sentence. Added to this his way of creating direct speech with no quotation marks and unconventional indication of who’s speaking and no separate paragraphing for new speakers captures the huddled conversations of groups of people – but keeps the reader on his toes working out who’s saying what. I’m not sure I’d get used to it even in a full length novel.

Anyway, it’s an effective story, focusing on the sadness of an emasculated boy’s life, but then while the reader is encouraged to feel sorry for Cuéllar (P.P.), the way he seems to live life more fully than his friends with his surfing while they seem to just spend their time making out with various girls and then visiting prostitutes and the way the end of the story compares his short life with their protracted ones leading to the way ‘we began to get fat and to have gray hair, potbellies, to wear reading glasses, to feel uneasy after eating and drinking and age spots already showed up on their skin as well as certain wrinkles’ leads us to think that maybe, despite his exclusion from the mainstream of life, this perhaps wasn’t such a bad thing. ( )
  evening | Mar 20, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060144912, Hardcover)

The Cubs and Other Stories is Mario Vargas Llosa's only volume of short fiction available in English. Vargas Llosa's domain is the Peru of male youth and machismo, where life's dramas play themselves out on the soccer field, the dance floor, and on street corners.

The title story, "The Cubs," tells the story of the carefree boyhood of P.P. Cuellar and his friends, and of P.P.'s bizarre accident and tragic coming of age. Innovative in style and technique, it is a work of both physical and psychic loss.

In a candid and perceptive forward to this collection of early writing, Vargas llosa provides background to the volume and a unique glimpse into the mind of the Nobel Prize-winning artist.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Jun 2016 12:45:41 -0400)

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