Friday, 25 February 2011

A Great--and Funny--Book about Writing: Mario Vargas Llosa's Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter

The writing life, as witnessed by my latest blog posts, is not always easy. For that reason, it's also easy for writers to take themselves too seriously. But a good antidote exists: Mario Varas Llosa's Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

Written when the Nobel laureate was just starting his career, it tells the story of a young would-be writer working for a radio station in Lima, Peru. The narrator's job is to produce news broadcasts that are mostly cribbed from newspapers (some things don't change, do they?) while he tries to write deathless prose. The one real writer he knows is a strange little man who pounds out scripts for daily soap operas, and who becomes totally wrapped up in the imaginary world he creates. At the same time, the narrator finds himself (quite chastely) involved with the sister of his uncle's wife, a beautiful divorcee who is 32, or twice his age. The book is delightful, and the reflections on the need to tell and to listen to stories that it prompts in the reader are quite profound.

This is by far the best of Vargas Llosa's book, in my opinion. Definitley worth reading, although the movie made from it Tune in Tomorrow (starring a very young Keanu Reeves) may be only unintentionally funny.

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