Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
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I just finished reading Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, and I loved it. It surprised me - I was expecting another long, political, somewhat depressing novel about Peruvian dictators and what I found was a hilarious book that reminded me a lot of a favorite, If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. The story alternates, chapter by chapter, between Mario's story (falling in love with Aunt Julia, working with the Scriptwriter) and the writer's increasingly disjointed and insane radio soap opera scripts.
Again, this is only my second MVL book but I was surprised by both the dark humor (which I enjoyed) and the lightness of the overall tone. Mario's friends are all nuts, but in a good way. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but it fit in perfectly with the rest of the story, or at least it was a realistic ending.
I love how the novel seems lighthearted in tone, but it has some real depth to it the further I got into it. The downfall of the Bolivian scriptwriter was particularly interesting to read through the interspersed radio serials (I loved those). I really felt bad for him, he was becoming one of the characters he wrote about. Pedro Camacho is an excellent character, everything about him is extraordinary: the way he lives with the money he makes, his dislike of Argentinians, his mannerisms, even the way he looks. It kind of reminds me of Ignatius J. Reilly.
My favorite chapter is when Mario, Aunt Julia, and Mario's friends are driving all over the country trying to find a mayor to marry them illegally. I pictured it as a silent film with the sped up projection and the frenzied organ music. It's one of the few times I've laughed out loud while reading a book.
I was also disappointed with the ending, mostly with the revelation of what happened to Pedro Camacho after his treatment. I'm not exacting sure what I was expecting though.
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!
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