The novel unties itself in two clear storylines. The odd chapters are are dedicated to the story of Mario (Varguitas for friends, and yes, the autobiographical reference is clearer than my skin in the middle of July), "a sort of intellectual" who works at Radio Panamericana while he nurtures the "papers" to become a professional writer. The burning issue doesn't concern his career but an "improper" relationship with "Aunt Julia" and all the adventures related. The even chapters are dedicated to an other character, a very curious one, Pedro Camacho, a radio novelist who embodies the tendencies of the average novel in South America. In fact the radio episodes of Pedro Camacho - an idol of the listeners of Radio Panamericana - are masterfuly traced on the genre by Vargas Llosa and they alternate the "real" story of the odd chapters: they naturally include an high dramatic tension in the middle of dynamics and plots which have something extreme or absurd (incets, rapes and so on, all the typical things of a South American soap opera).
Compared to the first book I've read by this author, The Bad Girl, this beats the first for inventiveness, vitality and also eccentricity (even if I was more engaged with The Bad Girl) . This book crackles, it bubbles over the countless ways that intersects the real world of Varguitas and the imaginary world of Camacho. If for an other writer the attempt to reproduce a popular model of the literature like this could have allowed to catch the sight of more parodic and sarcastic implications, it's admirable indeed how Vargas Llosa dedicates a space to them with a perfect sensation of temporaneous dedication, the same with which Camacho should writer these stories. Hither and thither I have laughed at some "umoristic regurgitations" which rages between an absurd situation and another, but Camacho's world is not miserably ridiculous, but crackling and maybe only lightly laughable, without meanness, only with endearment. Also because the wish of knowing is triggered somehow, the same itch of all the listeners who fall into Camacho's abyss episode after episode, maybe because the plot pushes itself in such absurd alleys that their conclusion becomes very tempting for my curiosity.
How would this tragedy of El Callao end?
Mirroring the progressive mood of the carachter of Camacho little by little also in his radio novels has been a superior move, hinting at some incongruent elements at the beginning up to the confusion and mixture of characters and precedent situations which was the same effect blurted out by the puzzled listeners some chapters before.
Maybe it's how the two worlds communicate and recall reciprocally that makes this book different from a more linear story, like The Bad Girl for example. A pyrotechnical show for which I could clap, and I like how there is anyway a balance that doesn't go beyond the total madness or, worst, the excessive ambition, but even if all "the lovely picture" crackles, it doesn't become an annoying cascade of virtuosities.
What to say about Mario's story: after reading the Camacho's radio intervals I was always happy to gain the next tile about the narrative progresses between Mario and Zia Julia, in addition all the final part, a total run against time, seemed almost like a "camochian" novel!
About that the final essay in my italian edition, written by Angelo Morino, was interesting, particularly for the gap between literary fiction and the overflowing abundance of autobiographical references and I'd like to read My life with Mario Vargas Llosa, a memoir written by the same Julia Urquidi Illanes of this book. Julia in fact tell "what Varguitas omitted" about their love story. I'm a bit meddler in these cases (but only in these cases!) and if I can, I'm always curious to known more about the writers I like as persons.
And in my to-read lists I'll add not only the quoted book, but also all the bibliography of Vargas Llosa, because something sparked after reading these two books, and it makes me say that with this author I'll have to subscribe to these rendez-vous and I don't have to close the shutter.