After being seriously impressed by Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Bad Girl, I was more than intrigued to read more from the Noble prize winner. Quite a long time passed, during which I was filling in my gaps in classic literature but upon entering a bookstore and wondering between Llosa and a Bulgarian author, I decided to go for his most famous novel, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. This novel will not be soon forgotten for the mere reason that it is the novel I read for the longest time from War and Peace until now. Not because I didn’t have time but simply because this is definitely NOT my thing. Once more, I have proven to be quite a diverse reader, who can hate one piece of literature and simply love another one by the same author. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the first example. I simply couldn’t stand his magical realism in 100 Years of Solitude and I chose to abandon it. But then, Love in the Times of Cholera is one of the greatest love stories. Mario Vargas Llosa (another South American author) joins the honorable list of authors, whom I both adore and hate.

I praised The Bad Girl a lot. The story of an obsessed man in love and a promiscuous woman, who ruins his life was brilliantly written and deeply psychological. Combined with the typical atmosphere of Peru, which now as I see it is present in both his novels, this piece of literature stands amongst my most favorite this year. You can imagine my surprise when I was totally repelled by Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

The latter is largely biographical. The main character, Marito, wants to be a writer and works in a radio in Lima, similarly to Llosa. He falls in love with his aunt Julia (not really related to him, relax!) and despite his family’s opposition, marries her. Llosa also married his aunt. So far quite a trivial story, which doesn’t get any better as you keep reading. We understand Marito loves the aunt but we don’t see why or how. I simply didn’t feel the passion, the connection, the intense pain that you cannot live without another human being. The love story was banal and boring so I was quite tempted to skip parts of it.

What is original about the novel, though, is that it is split between Marito’s narrative about his unfortunate love affair, and Pedro Kamacho’s stories. Kamacho is a brilliant Bolivian series writer, whose radio series exalt thousands of people. His relationship to Marito is explored quite superficial but we manage to grasp that Marito admires the writer. In Kamacho’s story line, Llosa explores the drama of the artist and the genius, who slowly loses his mind. At the beginning the Bolivian produces quite popular and admirable series, but the tension and the fatigue play their role. He starts mixing people, places, characters, and story lines. His destiny of a great artist and a great talent is unfortunately to be admired when capable and to be abandoned when crazy.

Without the Kamacho story line the novel would have been a complete disaster. Indeed, the place of the artist is ingeniously explored but as for the aunt Julia story, I would say it is a complete failure. Trivial, shallow, and superficial, Marito and his aunt’s love affair does nothing to provoke any feeling or impression in me. In conclusion, I am glad I finally finished this novel and I would need a lot of time before I turn again to Llosa. I have quite a bad taste in my mouth right now.