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The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta by Mario…

The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta

by Mario Vargas Llosa

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This is a complex book, as much about storytelling as it is about the ostensible subject, the unsuccessful revolutionary Alejandro Mayta. Each chapter starts with a writer, who says he went to Catholic school with Mayta and has been interested in him ever since, interviewing someone who knew Mayta, but then switching, in typical Vargas Llosa style, back and forth without attribution between Mayta's life and the interviews. (The main action of the novel took place in the late 50s, the interviews 25 years later.) The writer assures everyone he talks to that he is making up the life of Mayta, that it will be fiction, and that he won't use their names. (Of course he does.)

It turns out that Mayta, as described by the writer, started caring about the poor early on and even limited his food so he could experience what they experienced. He later joined a very small offshoot of a very small communist party -- the Revolutionary Worker's Party (Trotskyist), or RWP(T) -- which only seems to have seven members. At a birthday party for a relative, he meets a lieutenant, Vallejos, who appears to be involved in a revolutionary plot in the Andes where he works running a jail in the town of Jauja. Mayta is entranced by the possibility of action, rather than talk, but fails to convince the other members of his party; in fact, they suggest that Vallejos might be an informer. And, it turns out, Mayta is gay, and that ultimately gets him kicked out of the RWP(T), although they state it is for more high-minded revolutionary reasons. Inevitably, Mayta goes to Jauja, the plot of course fails (but why?), and it is a mystery what happened to both Vallejos and Mayta until the very end of the novel. Through this plot, Vargas Llosa satirizes much "revolutionary" activity.

But this plot summary is infinitely more straightforward than the novel. Not only is it occasionally hard to figure out who is talking and what is happening, but part of the novel is about how the writer does his interviewing and what he makes up and what is real. At the end, the "truth" about Mayta is revealed. But is it true? The reader doesn't know.

I am a Vargas Llosa fan, but this wasn't one of my favorites of his.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Sep 26, 2015 |
A classic of its type. he story ranges in a time space continuum ranging back and forth without seeming rhyme or reason which can lead to confusion and abstraction for the chronologically inclined. The story is a political satire on revolution thought and action. Others have reviewed it far better tan I since I write this review with a long hindsight. I am adding this to me reread shelf...Once is never enough for some things and MVL, is one of those authors worth revisiting like an old freind ( )
  Phoenixangelfire | Apr 6, 2014 |
This story of a failed 1950's revolutionary epitomizes the way Vargas Llosa constructs a story. It is told as the story of an author investigating the life of Alejandro Mayta, an idealistic revolutionary from a small left wing party who is involved in a very small coup attempt in the mountains of Peru. Sometimes it is 1958 and the story is being told as it happens; sometimes it is 25 years later and the "author" is interviewing people who knew Mayta as he does research for his novel. Peru in the 80's is shown as a violent, dangerous place. The way the two time periods are run together without any break speaks of the timelessness of certain issues and the difficulty of determining "truth" either as it happens or as it is remembered. Altogether a wonderful book. ( )
  gbelik | Jun 10, 2013 |
A brilliant historical and political novel in which a famous writer chooses to write a book about Alejandro Mayta, a former schoolmate and Trotskyite and who participated in a leftist insurrection in Peru in 1962, which also served as a sharp critique of different political factions and governments within the country and the devastating effect it had on the poor in Lima and elsewhere. Highly recommended! ( )
  kidzdoc | Jul 9, 2011 |
I couldn't decide whether to like or dislike this book at times. The narration constantly shifts between people talking and reminiscing to the writer about THE event in Alejandro's life and the actual action. But wait, not the actual action because that is buried in the mythical past of the revolution, but the writer's fictionalization of his life in order to protect the sources and to make a good story.

This was not my favorite book by Vargas Llosa but intriguing enough to make me want to seek out some of his more well known books. ( )
  jveezer | Oct 22, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374525552, Paperback)

The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta is an astute psychological portrait of a modern revolutionary and a searching account of an old friend's struggle to understand him. First published in English in 1986, the novel probes the long and checkered history of radical politics in Latin America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Set in Peru during a war between U.S. Marines and a Cuban-Bolivian revolutionary army, a fictional memoir characterizes the evolution of a revolutionary, in a psychological portrait of the fanaticism and destruction of revolution.

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