The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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.)