A Fish in the Water (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
In August, 1987, Mario Vargas Llosa suddenly found himself popular enough to consider running for president of Peru. He had published an essay, “Towards a Totalitarian Peru,” in the El objecting to the government’s recently declared intention to nationalize businesses, and an unexpected outpouring of public support for his position led him to consider entering politics. He believed that free-market economic reform could save Peru from its declining fortunes, so he energetically set about creating a plan for governing from his principle. He campaigned for three years, forming his Freedom Movement Party, giving speeches at rallies, and traveling to visit foreign dignitaries, until he lost the election to Alberto Fujimori on June 10, 1990. The rise and fall of his candidacy and his ambivalent reactions to his immersion in politics form the backbone of this memoir, but he complicates matters by interspersing his story with an account of his youth in Peru. Vargas Llosa humanizes and particularizes what might have been a dry and somewhat bitter campaign record with memories of his childhood and apprentice years as a writer.
A Fish in the Water: A Memoir has twenty chapters, with odd chapters chronicling Vargas Llosa’s early autobiography and even chapters describing the presidential campaign. He used basically the same structure in his novel La tía Julia y el escribidor (1977; Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, 1982), half of...
(The entire section is 2456 words.)
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