Jason's Reviews > Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
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's review
Feb 25, 12

bookshelves: fiction, novel
Read from February 11 to 20, 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.
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