Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Maria Vargas Llosa

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa is an odd little novel. It tells the story of Mario, a young Peruvian living in 1950s Lima, that falls in love with his Bolivan aunt, Julia. Recently divorced, Julia has come to Lima to live with her sister, Mario's father's brother's wife. There is no blood shared by Mario and Julia, but the family is still not happy about their relationship. Around the same time Julia shows up in Lima, the radio station at which Mario works hires a Bolivian scriptwriter to write their soap operas, or serials. Llosa alternates the story of Mario and Julia with vignettes from these serials. What makes the book odd is that the scriptwriter, Pedro Camacho, is slowly losing his mind. So, characters in the serials begin appearing not only in their own serial, but in others too. Later in the novel, characters will change even during the single episode of a serial. Funny as they are, these serials do not distract from the main plot, the trials of Mario and Julia as they seek to get married.

This novel was pretty good. Until they crossed into the bizarre, the serial episodes were very engaging. Mario's and Julia's tribulations were, at times, quite humorous. Overall, a solid offering from the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.


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