Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter: A Novel

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - Mario Vargas Llosa Ostensibly, this book follows two concurrent plots. One being the romance between Mario and his Aunt Julia, and the other being the crazy tales that Pedro Camacho writes for a Peruvian radio station. Chapters alternate back and forth between the two.

The first problem is that these two plot lines have almost no connection with one another. Yes, Mario works at the radio station and has several conversations with Pedro. However, he is merely a passive observer, with zero influence upon Pedro's story.

I thought a stronger link would be established between the two narratives as the book went along. Alas, it never was, and what we get are two different novels crammed between the same covers.

Speaking of which, the courtship between Mario and Julia is among the laziest and most boring romances I have ever read. Vargas Llosa offers us nothing beyond a barren description of events. Julia gets divorced, is really sexy, Mario notices, makes advances towards her, they elope, and then decide to marry. That's essentially it. No deep conversations, no conflicting feelings, no conflict, period.

It has all the wit, charm, and depth of hearing a hung-over college kid describe how he picked up a floozy at the sorority last night.

However, the other "book", Pedro Camacho's stories, do possess a certain charm. They're wonderfully sordid trash, rife with murder, sex, pregnancy, and incest. They're everything one can expect from modern-day Hispanic "telenovelas" (their version of soap operas).

However, as Pedro buckles under the strain of working 16+ hour days, his stories become increasingly deranged, to hilarious results.

While this was easily the best part of the book, it ended up going on for too long, stretching a good joke past the point where it was funny. Then again, even beating a dead horse was preferable to hearing more stale details of Mario and Julia's relationship.

As noted before, there is little attempt to connect these two storylines, and the result is a predictably weak whimper of an ending.

Ultimately, I can't recommend people to read "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter". Rather than being a cohesive novel, it's two unconnected stories, one completely terrible, and the other containing a funny, clever idea which nevertheless becomes stale well before it ends.