The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (Magill Book Reviews)
Intending to incorporate the material into a novel, the narrator attempts to reconstruct the life of Alejandro Mayta, a revolutionary who was involved in a minor uprising in the mountains of Peru some thirty years ago. The narrator locates and questions people who knew Mayta during that period. His aunt remembers the night that Mayta met Vallejos and was overwhelmed by the young man’s enthusiasm for revolutionary action, which was unlike the attitude of Mayta’s other companions, who seemed to be interested only in talking about revolution. Because of Vallejos’ unshakable belief that an insurrection in a remote mountain area was not only possible but imminent, Mayta left Lima and joined the rebels. The uprising failed, however, perhaps because fellow conspirators backed out or perhaps because Vallejos changed the date or perhaps because the peasants were not interested. The narrator cannot determine the most probable cause. The narrator also interviews Mayta’s wife, who recalls her brief marriage and her frustrations with Mayta’s all-consuming interest in radical politics and with his sexual preference for men. An important official remembers Mayta’s unselfish devotion to the cause, but another acquaintance calls him a traitor and an informer for the CIA.
As the narrator conducts his interviews, he realizes that all the accounts are different, that each person is remembering his or her own version. Yet the narrator is not concerned with their...
(The entire section is 401 words.)
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The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Like most Spanish American novelists writing since the 1960’s, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has made his reputation with complex novels that present both a gripping story and a formidable challenge to the reader. Two of the author’s earliest works, for example, The Green House (1965) and Conversation in the Cathedral (1969), both written at the height of the Spanish American novel’s “Boom” period, are works with intriguing stories and texts that provide even the most “initiated” reader with considerable difficulties. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta belongs to what many have called the “post-Boom” era (characterized by “smaller” stories told in a somewhat more straightforward manner), but it too provides the reader with an interesting tale as well as an invigorating reading experience.
Set in a fictitious 1983 Peru beseiged by Communist insurgents and United States Marines, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta follows the travels of an unidentified first-person narrator doing research for a novel that he wants to write on his former schoolmate, Alejandro Mayta. Mayta had been an “obscure revolutionary militant who twenty-five years ago, for a brief moment, flashed like a bolt of lightning.” Mayta’s “bolt of lightning” was an attempted uprising in the Peruvian mountains in 1958....
(The entire section is 2159 words.)
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
The Atlantic. CCLVII, March, 1986, p. 112.
Library Journal. CXI, January, 1986, p. 105.
The Nation. CCXLII, March 29, 1986, p. 461.
The New York Review of Books. XXXIII, March 27, 1986, p. 34.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, February 2, 1986, p. 1.
The New Yorker. LXII, February 24, 1986, p. 98.
Newsweek. CVII, February 10, 1986, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVIII, November 1, 1985, p. 56.
Saturday Review. XII, January, 1986, p. 84.
Time. CXXVII, March 10, 1986, p. 74.
(The entire section is 57 words.)