Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is a comedic novel about the education of young Mario (called variously Marito and Varguitas) that combines numerous elements of Vargas Llosa’s own life with the fictional relationship with Aunt Julia and Pedro Camacho in Lima in the 1950’s to form an autobiographical fable of identity that is neither autobiography nor history but rather an artistically rendered portrait of the artist as a young man. The primary narrator of the work, Mario, recounts, from a distance of at least twelve years later, his youthful love for his aunt by marriage, their improbable courtship and hilarious attempts to circumvent the law to get married, and his own life as a law student, radio newswriter, and would-be short-story writer. Each of the novel’s twenty chapters, except the last two, which conclude Mario’s narrative, are arranged so that the odd-numbered ones are Mario’s attempts to describe his life and fortunes and the even-numbered ones are actual scripts of soap operas by Pedro Camacho, the indefatigable and prolific Bolivian scriptwriter.
The work begins with a semiserious Mario introducing himself as a student and news director of Radio Panamerica, the lesser of Lima’s two radio stations owned by the Genaro family, with the importation of Pedro Camacho from Bolivia to write original radio serials to replace those which the Genaros brought from Cuba, and with the arrival of the newly divorced Aunt Julia, also from Bolivia. Mario’s initial encounters with Camacho and Julia are equally unpromising but turn out,...
(The entire section is 640 words.)