HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter: A Novel by…
Loading...

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter: A Novel (original 1977; edition 2007)

by Mario Vargas Llosa, Helen R. Lane (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,606484,528 (3.84)1 / 184
cameling's review
Set back in the day before television was introduced to Peru, we follow the life of student, Marito, as he works at Panamerica, writing up news scripts for the radio station and studies for his law exams. His life is disrupted by the arrival of his Aunt Julia with whom he embarks on a secret affair, and Pedro Camacho, a popular Bolivian radio soap opera scriptwriter.

Alternating between chapters in Marito's life are Pedro's increasingly hilarious and bizarre soap opera segments. As Marito and Aunt Julia's love affair gradually progresses into something neither had expected, so does Marito's relationship with Pedro, building from mere colleagues to confidantes. Pedro's radio soap operas hold the listeners glued to their radios at various times during the day.

It took me a little while before I realized that certain chapters I'd thought to be part of Marito's story were soap opera stories, complete with the requisite cliffhangers.
I think this is one of the author's more entertaining book. ( )
  cameling | Jul 7, 2012 |
All member reviews
English (37)  Spanish (4)  German (2)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-25 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 |
Though not usually fond of latin-american literature myself, I must say this was a very entertaining read. Well written with alternate storylines and quirky characters. ( )
  Miguelnunonave | Aug 5, 2013 |
Mario Vargas Llosa’s semi-autobiographical portrait of young Mario, a would-be writer, is terrifically funny and entertaining. It has an almost metafictional structure that at times reminded me of Calvino. Mario, the narrator, is bored with law school and works at a radio station writing news copy to pay the bills. His life becomes more exciting with the arrival of two new people – his Aunt Julia (his uncle’s sister-in-law – no blood relation) and Pedro Camacho, the much-in-demand writer of radio soap operas. Mario is at first a bit put off Aunt Julia but soon they start a relationship. He befriends the odd Pedro Camacho, whose quirks and crazy work schedule begin to cause havoc in the radio station. Well-written and wonderfully entertaining.

The contrast between the two stories works well – a romance with his aunt should be scandalous and crazy (incest!) but it actually plays out as a low-key, affectionate relationship until the end, when things get a little frantic. Pedro Camacho writes dramas, but merely works at a radio station. However, this storyline incorporates all sorts of weirdness. The chapters alternate – one about Mario’s life, one a story from Pedro Camacho. His stories always end on cliffhangers, then move on to another one (I like odd structures like this - If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is a favorite). They aren’t just trashy romances but gothic, labyrinthine tales. The narratives eventually start to bleed into one another and become confused. At work, Pedro Camacho has odd habits, some ridiculous quirks and turns the recording studio into a rigidly disciplined, fantastical production. The writing and story were so good that I never minded reading about the ordinary interaction - Mario bantering with his coworkers or strategizing with his cousin and best friend. Highly recommended. ( )
2 vote DieFledermaus | Jul 7, 2013 |
Hysterical. ( )
  Eileen47 | Jun 23, 2013 |
Spoilers
I enjoyed this novel more in the first part than the second where the extravagant descriptions became somewhat cloying. Llosa must have been around forty years old when he wrote about his life as an eighteen year old but he maintained the voice of an eighteen year old until the final chapter. While this gave the boisterous excesses of the novel a realism in reflecting the sort of ebullience a young man might have, I think the way alternate chapters are in fact short stories, supposedly adapted from Pedro Comacho’s radio plays, makes another demand on the reader with the lack of continuity. Yes, the characters jump from one story to another and end up jumbled, dying numerous different deaths for example, all to create a developing sense of comedy, but the humour paled after a while. Similarly the way Comacho has the protagonist always reaching the apex of his life in his fifties, reflecting Comacho’s age, loses its humour with each repetition.

Llosa certainly likes long sentences in this novel too – they build up, with lots of diversions and parentheses, in order to amuse the reader but the way Llosa frequently overloads these again makes demands of the reader. I imagine this is Llosa’s style rather than any awkwardness of the translator. ‘When, at 6p.m., the bard (conquistador’s smile, navy-blue suit, lithe step of a gymnast, flowing golden locks) entered, escorted by his orchestra and chorus, an ovation that echoed from the rafters resounded in the chapel of Las Descalzas.’ This is one of his shorter sentences but illustrates the need for the reader to be alert. Of course, this is a very reasonable demand but some more direct writing would, I think, add momentum. Apparently Llosa listed Hemingway as a writer whom he admired but their styles are complete contrasts.

That final chapter seemed for the most part to be direct autobiography, at least for the first part. Here I’d have expected more reflection. Instead he seems quite happy that his marriage to Julia lasted longer than his relatives had predicted and then he seems to find amusing the way he’s now married his cousin. With no word about how Julia fared in the divorce which she had expected and dreaded knowing it would leave her older and having to look for another person, Llosa/Mario seemed rather callous and, although he may have led his ex-colleagues’ conversation away from deriding Comacho, he didn’t seem at all compassionate either. While a certain self-preoccupation is expected from an eighteen year old, it’s not what you expect from a middle-aged man.

Still, there was quite a bit to enjoy in the novel. It gave me an insight into a 1950s Peru and a much less pressured life-style as far as work goes with Mario able to have a lot of time away from work until he got married. I also liked the humour at times – I just think the whole novel needed to be pared down. ( )
  evening | Jan 24, 2013 |
I found myself underwhelmed by Borges and Marquez; their brand of "magical realism" turned out not to be my cuppa. I found myself much, much happier with Mario Vargas Llosa's Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. The book's chapters alternate between young "Marito's" first person account of his love affair with his much older in-law Aunt Julia, and the third-person tales of "the scriptwriter" of a popular radio soap opera. I found both parts equally engaging. Given that "Marito" is a diminutive for Mario, and the character also has the nickname "Varguitas" (as in Vargas), that he's an aspiring writer in Lima, Peru and that the book is dedicated "to Julia Urquidillanes, to whom this novel and I owe so much" the autobiographical connection is obvious. Given Marito's age if his and Vargas Llosa's date of birth can be taken to be the same, the events in this novel take place around 1954. Fortunately, Marito is an endearing character, and that part is brought off beautifully.

The second part? Well, a friend who adores this novel warned that I might find some parts "offensive." And boy there are parts in that third person portion that right from the start seem racist and misogynistic. But by the time the more egregious parts came up, it was obvious those parts weren't the "real" story but the inventions of the mad scriptwriter, Pedro Camacho, who works at the same radio station where Marito holds a job. And so much there really is fun because each episode only grows more bizarre with the telling, and as Marito lets you in on the consequences after these stories are aired... One running joke concerns Argentinians, who Camacho absolutely despises. And eventually there is a sort of punchline to that (and other threads) at the end.

On the whole I found this a light-hearted, good-natured novel, even if a bit bittersweet in the end. I loved the ride, and definitely will be seeking out more by this Nobel-Prize-winning author. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 11, 2012 |
non sono riusciata a instaurare il giusto "feeling" con questo libro, so che ad altri è piaciuto moltissimo, ma io non so perché ... non ho trovato niente di speciale e una volta che ne ho lasciato "temporaneamente" la lettura non mi sono più sentita stimolata a riprenderla... forse in futuro, vedremo. ( )
  TheAuntie | Aug 23, 2012 |
L'inizio è fulminante. Le storie di Pedro Comacho ti prendono e ti portano via, veri e propri feuilleton. Poi ho cominciato a patire la follia e la ripetitività del cosiddetto "autore", e mano a mano che aumentavano di numero, meno mi appassionavo.
Per contro sono davvero notevoli i capitoli alternativi, quelli riguardanti Varguitas, ovvero l'autore stesso a 18 anni.
Un romanzo sulla scrittura scritto da un eccellente autore, comunque. Contentissima di averlo letto.
  Lilliblu | Aug 4, 2012 |
Set back in the day before television was introduced to Peru, we follow the life of student, Marito, as he works at Panamerica, writing up news scripts for the radio station and studies for his law exams. His life is disrupted by the arrival of his Aunt Julia with whom he embarks on a secret affair, and Pedro Camacho, a popular Bolivian radio soap opera scriptwriter.

Alternating between chapters in Marito's life are Pedro's increasingly hilarious and bizarre soap opera segments. As Marito and Aunt Julia's love affair gradually progresses into something neither had expected, so does Marito's relationship with Pedro, building from mere colleagues to confidantes. Pedro's radio soap operas hold the listeners glued to their radios at various times during the day.

It took me a little while before I realized that certain chapters I'd thought to be part of Marito's story were soap opera stories, complete with the requisite cliffhangers.
I think this is one of the author's more entertaining book. ( )
  cameling | Jul 7, 2012 |
Set back in the day before television was introduced to Peru, we follow the life of student, Marito, as he works at Panamerica, writing up news scripts for the radio station and studies for his law exams. His life is disrupted by the arrival of his Aunt Julia with whom he embarks on a secret affair, and Pedro Camacho, a popular Bolivian radio soap opera scriptwriter.

Alternating between chapters in Marito's life are Pedro's increasingly hilarious and bizarre soap opera segments. As Marito and Aunt Julia's love affair gradually progresses into something neither had expected, so does Marito's relationship with Pedro, building from mere colleagues to confidantes. Pedro's radio soap operas hold the listeners glued to their radios at various times during the day.

It took me a little while before I realized that certain chapters I'd thought to be part of Marito's story were soap opera stories, complete with the requisite cliffhangers.
I think this is one of the author's more entertaining book. ( )
  cameling | Jul 7, 2012 |
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. ( )
  jasonlf | Feb 25, 2012 |
A dix-huit ans, « Varguitas », autrement dit l'auteur, fait mollement des études de droit, travaille un peu à la radio, écrit des nouvelles et est éperdument amoureux de la tante Julia, belle divorcée de quinze ans son aînée. Malgré les obstacles, leur amour triomphera. En même temps, Vargas Llosa raconte l'uni-vers fabuleux des feuilletons radio auxquels est suspendue toute l'Amérique latine. Et, à travers cet univers de mélo et de kitsch, il nous peint toute une société.
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
Many of you have read books by [[Mario Vargas Llosa]], especially since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and your reviews piqued my interest. That, plus my goal to read more new-to-me authors this year, led me to [Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter].

This is a strangely mesmerizing book. Marito is a law student who revises news items for use by a local radio station in Lima, Peru. When his recently divorced Aunt Julia returns to Lima, the two begin an affair (throughout which, he continues to refer to her as Aunt Julia). At the same time, Pedro Camacho is hired by the radio station to write serials. He is a master who quickly wins a large following. Chapters from his various serials are interspersed with the story of Marito and Aunt Julia, providing an interesting look at the many sides of Peru. But slowly Camacho begins to confuse his listeners (and me) by moving characters from one serial to another. As Marito and Aunt Julia deal with their family's disapproval, Marito also tries to figure out what's going on with Camacho.

This book is a bit of a whirlwind. While there is some continuity in the plot, the pieces of the serials serve more as interlude - and increasingly hard-to-follow interludes at that. But this experimental structure is part of what I really liked about this book. Also, [[Mario Vargas Llosa]] excels at creating a sense of place. The people and places of Peru jump to life. It found it hard to get into the rhythm of this book, but the exquisite writing and the humor kept me engaged to the end. ( )
1 vote porch_reader | Feb 17, 2012 |
I enjoyed reading this book: it's very entertaining and full of intriguingly off-beat characters and tantalisingly unresolved storylines. But I wouldn't go so far as to call it one of my all-time favourite books, as many people do. Possibly because there is such a strong autobiographical element in the book, the narrator seems to find it hard to get inside the head of his eighteen-year-old self, and we don't get very much feeling for who Varguito is, or what makes him fall in love with his aunt. ( )
  thorold | Feb 8, 2012 |
It is no surprise that Llosa is a Nobel Laureate! This is a story about a budding author who writes news stories and short stories and is influenced by a scriptwriter who goes mad writing stories. Did I tell you that it is autobiographical? Llosa really did marry his aunt's sister-in-law and then go on to marry his first cousin. The characters in this story are absolutely marvelous as well. Just when I began to lose the thread that tied all of this together, I referred to the marvelous epigraph which made my head spin even further. Are you intrigued yet? A great read! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jan 2, 2012 |
Marito is a young law student living in Lima, Peru, who makes a living at one of the local radio stations by plagiarizing news items from the newspapers for the hourly newscasts. When the owners of the station hire the famous Bolivian radio personality Pedro Camacho, Marito is fascinated by the dwarf-like scriptwriter and actor, who can work at a manic pace and produce scripts for six different radio serials per day with apparently no effort, though it becomes apparent from the content of the serials as the months go by that Camacho is going through a serious meltdown. Marito has aspirations of moving into a Parisian hovel and becoming a literary sensation one day, and while he labours over short stories that he's never quite satisfied with, he can't help but ask himself whether Camacho is not the better writer of the two; he might produce nothing but drivel, but the fact is he spends his days and nights doing nothing but writing, which surely must weight in the balance? His fascination with Camacho is only equaled by his obsession for his 'aunt' Julia (she's actually his uncle's ex-wife). Julia, like Camacho, and also hails from Bolivia, but after a failed marriage, she has moved to Lima to try to find herself another husband, a role that Marito hopes to take on himself, even though he's thirteen years her junior and a relationship between the two is bound to create a scandal with the family.

One of the best parts of the novel is the alternation between Marito's narration and episodes from Camacho's serials, which go from being over the top soap opera fare to complete insane so to speak "postmodern" happenings, but the heroes of his scripts are always described as being "in the prime of his life—his fifties" and of "broad forehead, aquiline nose, penetrating gaze, the very soul of rectitude and goodness." This was a highly original novel, and the first half in my opinion belonged to Camacho completely, both the character himself and his zany creations, and as these became more and more convoluted as he slowly but surely lost his mind, young Marito and aunt Julia's love affair took on the allure of a soap opera script on steroids, which all told, made for plenty of hilarious moments, so I couldn't help but be disappointed with an ending that seemed to belong to another book altogether and fell completely flat. Still much recommended—it's not likely to be like anything else you've read before. Thanks to Donna for recommending this one. ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Dec 17, 2011 |
És una mostra excel·lent de domini de la llengua castellana i el relat. A partir d'un noi que treballa a una emissora, s'intercalen les històries que s'emeten per ràdio fetes per l'"escrividor", amb la seva història d'amor per la "tia Júlia". Potser inclou tantes històries, que es fa una mica pesat. Això no obstant, per treure's el barret. ( )
  Montserratmv | Sep 7, 2011 |
This is one of the most enjoyable novels of Vargas LLosa I've read so far. The novel carries two intertwined stories. One is the narrator Mario (also called Marito, Varguitas), a young 18-year old student who falls in love with his aunt (Tia Julia of course) and marries her to the consternation of his family, and despite all their efforts to derail the marriage. The other is of Pedro Camacho, the escribidor, a Bolivian writer of radio soap operas who works in the same radio station as Mario.

As the love of Mario with tia Julia develops, also his friendship with the escribidor Camacho evolves. But the latter friendship is mostly on Mario's part since Camacho is reticent to become a friend- he is mostly dedicated to his trade of writing soap operas. And he is a fine soap opera writer, at one point he is writing soap opears 10 hours a day, working simultaneously on several of them as they are being played day to day. Naturally, the escribidor can't continue like that and hismind begins to unravel. It's hilarious the way that initially he begins to mix characters and names from one soap opera to another, which confuses his very loyal audience. Eventually, he begins to end each of the soap operas by having a disaster kill all the characters simultaneously. In one, they are all aboard or boarding a ship that suddenly sinks- killing them all. In another they are all gathered in a church for a religious ceremony when there is an earthquake which kills them all. A third one happens in a soccer stadium where the fans stampeded, and you kow the end.

In the novel there is a second "escribidor"- Mario the narrator himself. He wants to become a writer and does at first write brief news items for the radio station. But after his marriage to tia Julia they move to Paris and he is able to dedicate himself to his writing, and actually making a living out of it. More so than any other of Vargas Llosa's novels, this one appears to be heavily autobiographical. ( )
1 vote xieouyang | Jul 15, 2011 |
The popular daytime radio soap operas in Peru are mimicked by the real life soap opera of a romance between 18-year-old Mario and his 32-year-old Aunt (by marriage) Julia. Mario is a bright young man, halfheartedly pursuing a law degree while working as a radio newswriter. His narration of the behind-the-scene events at the radio station alternate with the vignettes of the soap operas.

These episodes seemed so real, I got caught up in the drama of the secondary stories to the point where I began to care more about them than Mario's travails. That is, until the stories become a hodgepodge of confusion when Pedro, the scriptwriter, begins to mix up his characters and situations with amusing yet disastrous results. Mario's love affair similarly threatens to dissolve in a downward spiral when his family finds out what is going on between him and Aunt Julia. Mirth quickly turns to mayhem in this entertaining book based on the author's youthful adventures. ( )
6 vote Donna828 | Mar 24, 2011 |
18-year-old Mario is working at a Lima radio station putting together news broadcasts, while pursuing his law studies and trying to become a writer. This book is the story of his love affair with Julia (his aunt by marriage) and his friendship with Pedro Camacho who is hired to write soap operas for the sister radio station next door.

This is one of my favourite books, but it should only be read by people who are 'the very soul of rectitude and goodness'. ( )
  isabelx | Mar 1, 2011 |
This is a wonderful novel by an author with imagination and fully in control of his characters and plots and their complex interweavings. Mario, the protagonist through whose eyes we see most of the story, works as a news editor for a radio station while also trying to establish himself as a writer in his own right. Aunt Julia, some 15 years his senior, is an audacious divorcee and against all odds, her better judgment and condemnation from all sides of the families, they fall in love and want to marry. At the same time a famous Bolivian writer of radio serials comes to work at Mario’s radio station and he makes the station immensely popular, and profitable, with his radio stories; plots of eight or ten radio stories are interspersed throughout the novel. But while the lives of Mario and Aunt Julia follow, more or less, a straight line development, the Bolivian writer begins to lose control of his stories, his characters, his plots; he changes the names of characters, gives them the same name but different lives in different stories, changes histories and roles, even kills-off characters only to have them reappear in another story.

This is rather like life that is not the linear progression that we, and especially others, tend to see of each life (kind of like our lives being patterned by a script writer), when it is in fact largely the result happenstance that at any given moment, depending on circumstances, could take us in quite different directions and develop different persona (like a script writer losing control). The Bolivian writer’s mixing of story-lines is a fine representation of the guiding principle of happenstance and so art mirrors life.

There is a hilarious episode with Mario and Julia, and two of Mario’s friends as sidekicks and supporters, visiting every village, no matter how tiny, to try to find a mayor willing to overlook the fact that Mario is underage to marry and does not have parental consent.

Llosa also celebrates the sheer complexity of life and people and relationships, and the infinitely complex web of relationships that hold us all and sometimes nurture, sometimes exasperate us, and in extremis, even harm us. Well worth reading.
  John | Aug 17, 2010 |
Showing 1-25 of 37 (next | show all)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
9 avail.
53 wanted
4 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.84)
0.5
1 7
1.5 1
2 21
2.5 5
3 53
3.5 24
4 131
4.5 25
5 72

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,522,917 books! | Top bar: Always visible