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Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario…
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Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (original 1977; edition 1977)

by Mario Vargas Llosa

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1,606484,528 (3.84)1 / 184
Member:evening
Title:Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
Authors:Mario Vargas Llosa
Info:Faber Faber Inc (2002), Paperback, 410 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:autobiography, Peru, humour

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Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa (1977)

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English (37)  Spanish (4)  German (2)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Brilliant, amusing, absorbing. The chapters alternate between the narrative and a series of interlaced stories.

The narrative is in the first person by "Mario", an eighteen year-old who writes news scripts for the radio while going to law school and experimenting as a real writer. It centers around his relationship with his Aunt Julia and a writer of melodramatic radio serials, Pedro Camacho. In many ways it has the feel of a normal coming of age memoir/novel, albeit a perceptive, funny and well written one. But the greatest interest is Camacho--an intense "artist" who works 14 hours a day, seven days a week, simultaneously writing and acting in a large number of radio serials.

The series of interlaced stories are like Balzac on acid. Each is ostensibly an independent, extremely melodramatic rendition of a radio serial--all ending with a cliffhanger and reflecting Camacho's strange worldview (e.g., a hatred of Argentine's and a deep belief that men reach the "prime" of their lives in their fifties). The stories get stranger and stranger and characters start migrating between them, sometimes changing names or professions, or coming back to life after they've been killed, and by the end just about all of them die in a bizarre series of cataclysms.

And, of course, the trajectory of Camacho is mirrored in the evolution of the serials themselves. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
It's rare that I'd describe a book's principal quality as being charming, but it definitely applies here. A warm-hearted and funny novel about love, as well as the art and nature of writing, this was a pleasure to read from start to finish. ( )
  roblong | Mar 11, 2014 |
It was a funny and "sweet" novel but its not a page turner. It was so easy to fall in love the characters especially Aunt Julia and Pedro Camacho. Aunt Julia was adorable, optimistic and very lovable. I wouldn't be surprised that Marito fell in love with her. She's like someone who wants to be everybody's friend. I cannot say the same for Pedro Camacho. He is very talented and very hard-working but a bit crazy even before he really got crazy. I actually felt sad for him. I think Pedro Camacho deserves better. He's just like one of the characters in his serials. I would love to read more Mario Vargas Llosa stories. He's a really great storyteller. ( )
  krizia_lazaro | Mar 3, 2014 |
A tour de force from Mario Vargas Llosa, who has become one of my favorite authors. In this story which is based on his own life and first marriage, an 18-year-old aspiring writer falls in love with his divorced 32-year-old aunt (by marriage) and begins secretly courting her, first trying to overcome her feeling that he’s just a boy, and then his family’s view that he’s throwing his life away over a passing fancy. The young man works at a radio station in Lima that has just hired an extremely popular soap opera scriptwriter, and Vargas Llosa cleverly makes every other chapter one of the stories that’s read over the air, a fact he conceals until chapter five.

Vargas Llosa has a beautiful way with words, and this novel has it all. It transports you to Peru in the 1950’s. The love affair is forbidden; Aunt Julia is sexy and young Marito is sweet. Pedro Camacho, the scriptwriter, is a manic genius interesting in his own right, and he creates funny and entertaining stories. Without giving away how it all plays out, I’ll just say I found the final chapter, which fast forwards to the future (or perhaps, present), excellent. In a subtle way, Vargas Llosa emphasizes the point that these moments or intervals in time in our lives are just that, intervals, and that time and life march on. We all go on the paths we’re on, some converging, some diverging; the ending amplifies the feeling of sentimental remembrance in everything that precedes it.

Quotes:
On being 50:
“…Camacho had held forth, dogmatically and eloquently, on the subject of the man in his fifties. The age at which his intellectual powers and his sensuality are at their peak, he had said, the age at which he has assimilated all his experiences. That age at which one is most desired by women and most feared by men. And he had insisted, in a highly suspect way, that old age was an ‘optative’ phenomenon, I had deduced that the Bolivian scriptwriter was fifty himself and terrified at the prospect of old age: a tiny crack of human frailty in that spirit as solid as marble.”

On love, and this forbidden relationship:
“…we never made any sort of plans for the future. This was a subject that by tacit agreement was banished from our conversations, no doubt because both of us were equally convinced that our relationship was destined not to have a future. Nonetheless, I think that what had begun as a game little by little became serious in the course of these chaste meetings in the smoke-filled cafes of downtown Lima. It was in such places that, without our realizing it, we gradually fell in love.”

“In the space of just a few seconds I went from hating her with all my heart to missing her with all my soul.”

“’I know what it’s like, down to the very last detail, I saw it in a crystal ball,’ Aunt Julia said to me, without the least trace of bitterness. ‘In the best of cases, our love affair will last three, maybe four years or so; that is to say, till you meet up with a little chick who’ll be the mother of your children. Then you’ll throw me over and I’ll have to seduce another gentleman friend. And at that point the words THE END appear.’”

On seduction:
“Despite the fact that her turgescent horizons and gelatinous jiggling when she walked ought to have alerted him to the danger, Father Serefino Huanca Leyva committed (attraction of the abyss that has seen monolithic virtues succumb) the insane error of taking her on as an assistant, believing that, as she claimed, her aim was to save souls and kill parasites. In reality, she wanted to lead him into sin. She put her program for so doing into practice, coming to live in the adobe hovel, sleeping on a makeshift bed separated from him by a ridiculous little curtain which, moreover, was transparent. At night, by candlelight, on the pretext that they made her sleep better and kept her in good physical health, the temptress did exercises. But was Swedish gymnastics the proper term for that Thousand and One Nights harem dance that the Basque woman performed, standing in one spot waggling her hips, shaking her shoulders, wriggling her legs, and coiling her arms, a spectacle that the panting ecclesiastic witnessed through the little curtain lighted by the flickering candle as though watching a disturbing Chinese shadow play? And later, as everyone in Mendocita lay silently sleeping, Mayte Unzategui, on hearing the creaking of the bed on the other side of the curtain, had the audacity to ask, in a mellifluous voice: ‘Are you having trouble getting to sleep, Father dear?’”

On sex:
“’But it’s all false, from beginning to end. The physical something secondary? It’s what matters most for two people to be able to put up with each other, Varguitas.’” ( )
2 vote gbill | Jan 12, 2014 |
Although I'm a big fan of Vargas Llosa, and although this book has been on my shelves for 30 years (I still wrote my name and the date in books back in June 1983), I never read it until now. And what a delightful book it is! Vargas Llosa intersperses semi-autobiographical chapters about the 18-year-old narrator's life and his budding romance with his 32-year-old divorced aunt by marriage with chapters that the reader eventually realizes are episodes in the radio serials written by a Bolivian scriptwriter recently hired by the radio station at which the narrator works.

In the Aunt Julia chapters, the narrator, whose name is Mario but is generally called Marito or Varguesita, wants above all to be a writer; nonetheless, he is somewhat lackadaisically going to law school to please his family, while working as news editor and writer at the radio station and hanging out with his friends. He lives in Lima with his grandparents, as his parents are in the US, and spends a great deal of time with members of his large extended family. And that is how he meets Julia, who has come from Bolivia to Lima to visit her sister, the wife of one of the narrator's uncles, to recover from her divorce and find a new husband. One of the delights of these sections are the narrator's sense of fun, as well as romance and responsibility, and some parts are almost laugh-out-loud funny, especially as this part of the plot builds to its conclusion. I also enjoyed the descriptions of how the radio serials are recorded, and the efforts of the sound effects man in particular. The characters Vargas Llosa creates are wonderful.

The chapters representing the work by the master, and eccentric, Bolivian scriptwriter, Pedro Camacho, are more puzzling. They start off as fairly standard soap opera fare -- romance with a whiff of incest, rape, etc. -- and gradually become weirder and weirder and darker and darker. At one point I was confused because a name seemed to be changed, and gradually (from the narrator's chapters), I learned that the radio listeners were confused by this too, as characters seem to be moving from one serial to another, changing lives, professions, and more, and dying in one serial to be resurrected in another. Through this, the reader sees Pedro Camacho's breakdown before the listeners and the radio station owners start discussing it.

Although both the narrator chapters and the serial chapters move along at a brisk pace, with well drawn characters and well developed plots, there is another aspect to this book, and that is the nature of writing. The narrator frequently discusses stories he is trying to write, and of course is fascinated by how Camacho works, so part of the story is the portrait of the aspiring writer as a young man. And this is probably semi-autobiographical as well. The last chapter, which I felt a little tacked on, reveals what happens when the older author, who has been living in Europe, visits Peru and runs into some of his old friends, some who have risen higher in the world, and some who have fallen. It ties up some loose ends, but I felt the novel would have been stronger without this.

All in all, this book was a lot of fun.
10 vote rebeccanyc | Oct 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mario Vargas Llosaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lane, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordenhök, JensTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabarte Belacortu, MarioleinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torres, Romero deCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Новикова, Л.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Julia Urquidi Illanes, to whom this novel and I owe so much
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In those long-ago days, I was very young and lived with my grandparents in a villa with white walls in Calle Ocharán, in Miraflores.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427247, Paperback)

Mario Vargas Llosa's brilliant, multilayered novel is set in the Lima, Peru, of the author's youth, where a young student named Marito is toiling away in the news department of a local radio station. His young life is disrupted by two arrivals.

The first is his aunt Julia, recently divorced and thirteen years older, with whom he begins a secret affair. The second is a manic radio scriptwriter named Pedro Camacho, whose racy, vituperative soap operas are holding the city's listeners in thrall. Pedro chooses young Marito to be his confidant as he slowly goes insane.

Interweaving the story of Marito's life with the ever-more-fevered tales of Pedro Camacho, Vargas Llosa's novel is hilarious, mischievous, and masterful, a classic named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Reality merges with fantasy in this hilarious comic novel about the world of radio soap operas and the pitfalls of forbidden passion by the bestselling author of The Storyteller. Sexy, sophisticated, older Aunt Julia, now divorced, seeks a new mate who can support her in high style. She finds instead her libidinous nephew, and their affair shocks both famiy and community.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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