Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter

Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the greatest books that i have read so far.If you like magic realism, or latin literature.Don’t read this blog anymore. Just go and get a copy of the book. It's a master piece. A brilliantly constructed novel.

I came across the book accidentally. I wanted to read a book of a famous author from peru. I was researching and i came across mario vargos llosa, Latin America's best known novelists. Mario vargas Llosa was the person who contested for presidency in 1990 and lost to fujimori. Mario who started the campaign as a overwhelming favourite lost the election as he was seen as someone representing the affluent, mainly white minority.

**** spoiler alert****
In Aunt julia and the scriptwriter the protagonist mario is a 18yr old law student in peru doing part time work at a radio station. Enter two persons into his world. His 32 yr old divorced bolivian aunt julia and the famous scriptwriter pedro comacha also from bolivia. At this point i thought it is just a simple story which is going to do justice to the title.But the ride just started. mario falls in love with his aunt and tries to get married to her. The great scriptwriter increases the audience of the radio station manifolds by writing some great plays for the radio station.He works relentlessly simulataneously writing scripts for many plays. At the end the bachelor script writer who burns himself out by thinking and writing about his play scripts, starts mixing up characters in his various sopa operas and in order to get out of the mess ends up killing all his characters.And Mario who's own story becomes dramatic to the level of the radio play gets married to his aunt atlast.

The great thing about the novel is how it is constructed. The author counterpoints the whole novel with reality and fiction. The chapters alternate between reality and fiction. There are small stories every alternate chapters which doesn't have anything to do with the main story line. They all are very dramatic with a suspense end that is not revealed to the reader. The stories will end something like will he kill himself or not??. After reading 2 short stories i was wondering what is happening. I then realized that these are the stories that are being written by pedro comacha and telecasted on the radio station, as some of the characters in the main story talk about the play and the characters that come int he unrelated short stories. As pedro burns out and starts making mistakes the characters that we already came in one short story start appearing in the other with the same name but different profession etc, as he becomes more unstable all these characters come back. Some time the whole name changes, sometimes they get mixed up in all together different stories.

It is pretty much as if the author has freed those characters from the prison of there stories and have allowed them to move freely in all the stories. This leads to different combination of characters, suddenly the name which was molded into the character that you envisioned has to be ripped of and had to put on a different character. It was magic realism at its best.


The language and the style the author follows is also great. The short stories are more soap opera style with lot of drama where as the main story is more realistic. But as the story movies on the main story also gets into a drama style as real and fiction become intermingled. Again as the short stories where written by pedro comacha, who has a certain traits, likes and dislikes. The characters in the short stories also exhibit them. Like pedro's dislike on Argentineans etc.The novel seems to havn't lost much in the traslation from spanish.

It is one of the brilliantly constructed novels i have read. In the end the construction of the novel itself becomes a problem as it becomes too confusing with the character jumps. Never the less it is one GREAT NOVEL.

This is supposedly a semi autobiographical book. Yes mario did marry his older aunt.

a book that i enjoyed thoroughly.
you shouldnt have given away the complete story in your review. despite the fact that you suggest that you go read the book in the beginning, not all are "likers" of magic realism or latin literature!
nevertheless thanks!
my opinion:
awesome book! towards the second half, it becomes kind of cumbersome, if you try to remember the characters [ which i think is almost impossible ]. the mad love between the aunt and her niece, [ though being amorous at times ], could not have been portrayed any better, than this author!
i could not help but remember p.g. wodehouse when i was reading the odd numbered chapters, and at times the even number chapters. but towards the end things get a little fuzzy.
a great book, and thanks to you sen for having introduced me to this book.
iam glad that you enjoyed the book.The reason why i gave the story was that people won't just go and read book because i say it and it is hard to write something about the book without revealing the story.

I tried doing that for Mario vargas other novel "The time of the hero" and my review was so confusing.I hope you havn't read it.take my word try to read that novel.Again it is another novel that has a non-linear narration style, wont understand anything till half of the novel.But everything willbe clear in the end.You have read it very carefully, need lot of patience and time :)
i tried opening your review on "the time of hero", but it is not available.

was it so confusing that u removed it?! ;-)!
in that case you should remove the link from your main page!

i dont have lot of time, but i have lot of patience! so i am going to read this book!
just linking prblm.i have fixed it.check it out now.
Glad to have stumbled upon your wonderful blog, particularly to have found another Llosa admirer.

You may like to see my own review of the same novel.
thanxs.will check out ur review too.
if you loved the book... you have to see the film with peter faulk, keanu reeves. thats if you can get hold of it. released in the 80's
the film is known in some countries as "tune in tomorrow" and released in 1990. see it
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