My humble apologies- Two weeks ago I asked for recommendations for beach reading and got a great list— and I started one not on the list! I have a good reason- it was a Christmas present from one of my longest known best friends, who wrote inside of it:

I hope you still find time to read for the pure enjoyment of it.

And that was something I had not done enough of last year. And I am enjoying the book so much, I am writing about while only half way through. The book is Mario Vargas’ LLosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and it is a riot, just the pleasurable reading my doctor should have ordered.

I’ll butcher it by trying to describe the plot, but Llosa paints a colorful picture of life in Lima, Peru with the interwoven soap operatic like of young Mario, dreaming of being a writer, but coming up short, his ill-fated romantic fall for his uncle’s wife’s sister (Julia), and the influence of quirk laden Pedro Comacho, who has been brought in my the radio station Mario works for to write the plots of their radio soap operas.

I had to smile at the meta-meta-meta opening quote credited toSalvador Elizondo

I write. I write that I am writing. Mentally I see myself writing that I am writing and I can also see myself seeing that I am writing. I remember writing and also seeing myself writing. And I see myself remembering that I see myself writing and I remember seeing myself remembering that I was writing and I write seeing myself write that I remember having seen myself write that I saw myself writing that I was writing and that I was writing that I was writing that
I was writing. I can also imagine myself writing that I had already written that I would imagine myself writing that I had written that I was imagining myself writing that I see myself writing that I am writing.

It all makes sense, maybe one day I will swap in “blogging” for writing and use that. Or maybe one day I will blog that I will swap “blogging” for writing. Mentally I see myself blogging that I am blogging and….. oi.

That was a great smile start and not even part of the novel.

It took me about 4 chapters in before I realized that Llosa had written ever other chapter as a stand alone episode of one of Comacho’s penned tragic soaps. I had noticed that the maile lead in each had been describe as having an “aquiline” nose, and after about the fourth iteration, I went back to review. Sure enough, genteel Dr Quinteros, police sergeant Lituma, the judge Don Pedro Barreda y Zaldivar, and driven rat exterminator Don Federico were all described with the exact same words, having:

a broad forehead, an aquiline nose, a penetrating gaze, the very soul of rectitude and goodness–

It’s an obviously deliberate construct; all four of these characters are remarkably different in occupation, social standing, personality, yet have been painted with a unifying physical description. Is it to note the similarities among us? Or the thin veil of soap opera characters? Or??

Anyhow, I am having fun noticing that, and now only half way through the book, I’m having trouble not reading it.

No worries, those other recommendations, were not in vain, as I plan to move on to more pleasurable reading. And hopefully the beach again.

And thanks, my good friend Uwe, for sharing Aunt Julia with me. We get recommendations from internet friends all the time, and its a good thing, but a personal one from someone you know well bears a lot more weight than a click of a thumbs up button.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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