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Limited Edition of Real Life of Alejandro Mayta Vargas Llosa's haunting work, set in Lima, tells the story of Cuban-backed radicals and their struggle against a crumbling military establishment. Limited Edition of Real Life of Alejandro Mayta Vargas Llosa's haunting work, set in Lima, tells the story of Cuban-backed radicals and their struggle against a crumbling military establishment.


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Limited Edition of Real Life of Alejandro Mayta Vargas Llosa's haunting work, set in Lima, tells the story of Cuban-backed radicals and their struggle against a crumbling military establishment. Limited Edition of Real Life of Alejandro Mayta Vargas Llosa's haunting work, set in Lima, tells the story of Cuban-backed radicals and their struggle against a crumbling military establishment.

30 review for The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, Limited Edition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    An excellent story of what it is like to be a liberal dreamer trying to inspire a communist revolution in Latin America. We’re taken back to Peru in the 1950’s through the eyes of a fictitious author writing a biography of Mayta, the revolutionary. We follow Mayta through meeting after meeting with his seven-or-so comrades assembling weekly surreptitiously in a garage. We know from the beginning that it will end up as a failed attempt—a farce attempted in a town in the mountains with boy scouts. An excellent story of what it is like to be a liberal dreamer trying to inspire a communist revolution in Latin America. We’re taken back to Peru in the 1950’s through the eyes of a fictitious author writing a biography of Mayta, the revolutionary. We follow Mayta through meeting after meeting with his seven-or-so comrades assembling weekly surreptitiously in a garage. We know from the beginning that it will end up as a failed attempt—a farce attempted in a town in the mountains with boy scouts. But we don’t know until very late in the book what happened to Mayta thirty years ago. The author gives us a detailed view of the meetings and discussions and the inevitable splintering among the ranks as various communist groups sub-divided over fine points of Marxist interpretations. Mayta’s a Trotskyite but there are Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists, Castroists and later Maoists. Like priests who lose faith in God, some of these intellectual rebels simply peter out in time as they lose faith in their Marxist beliefs. All the groups print flyers to sell or handout in the street. Bu they despair on occasion that “I would still be in some dinky group trying to sell fifty copies of a bi-weekly newsletter, knowing all the time the workers would never read it, or that, if the did read it, they would never understand it.” There’s discussion of the issue of whether or not a priest can be be true to his faith and still be a communist. What about promoting violence? Mayta finely slices that line by arguing that Trotsky preached violent revolution but not terrorism. SPOILERS FOLLOW We learn too that Mayta is an unusual rebel in a several ways. As a boy he was always compassionate to the poor and the homeless. He collected leftover school snacks and gave those and money to beggars. He wanted to experience their life so for months he deliberately ate a restricted diet of only bread and soup. People think he will become a priest. He gets bitten by the rebel fever only when he’s in his 40’s and all his comrades are half his age. Someone says of him: “Did you ever meet one of these guys who discovers sex or religion in old age? They get anxious, fiery, indefatigable. That’s how he was. He had discovered action and he seemed like a kid with a new toy. He looked ridiculous, like an old man trying to do the latest dance steps.” And he is gay. But it’s a time when the party will throw you out as “queer” and a “pervert.” Mayta himself has inherited this self-loathing from the unaccepting society of his times. He marries to hide his orientation and his wife later talks with him about going to a doctor to be “cured.” Late in life he marries again and has children while professing hatred for “queers.” So it’s a story of Marxist rebellion but it’s also a story of the torment of homosexuals at the time in Peru. The author of the book also gives us his take on fiction. As he interviews people who knew Mayta, the fictitious author in the book always tells them, in effect, “I need to know exactly what really happened so I can fictionalize it.” Or “…so I can create something that will be an unrecognizable version of what actually happened.” There’s a lot of local color of Peru and of Lima but it’s not a pretty picture. A lot it is set in slums that are often indistinguishable from the garbage and sewerage that surrounds them. The story is also set in a violent Peru of the future. Lima is overwhelmed with poverty and violence. People have to check their guns at the door of restaurants except for the elite who are allowed to have their bodyguards with automatic weapons come in with them. Rumors are rife that Cubans are invading the country from Bolivia and that armed US Marines will be landing in cities to push them back. There is black humor in all the violence. The fictitious author interviews a Congressman who used to know Mayta and tells us that “Ever since the attack that left him lame, he is one of the most popular members of Congress.” As a popular member of Congress, he is subject to death threats from both leftist groups and the right-wing “liberty death squads.” The book could be shorter. There are too many revolutionary meetings and too much detail on the discussions – often about who is suspected of being a spy and who is getting thrown out of the group for one reason or another. “That’s always been the Trots favorite sport: purges, divisions, fractions, and expulsions.” The author also uses a writing technique that is unusual and effective but takes some care to not get lost. When he’s interviewing a subject about Mayta the paragraphs jump back and forth between what the interviewee is saying and actual events and conversations with Mayta as he experienced those events. A good story in almost academic sociological detail of what goes on behind the scenes among intellectuals in Latin America dreaming of revolution. When Vargas Llosa wrote this novel rural and urban violence saturated the country as two Marxist factions warred with each other: Tupac Amaru and Shining Path. It’s set in Peru but today it could be Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia or any number of Central American counties that have on-going guerrilla activity. Top photo of guerrilla fighters in Peru from weaponews.com Slums (barriadas) in Lima, a photo by Mario Faubert from overflightstock.com The author from elpais.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Down the Peruvian Rabbit Hole The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, the book's English title, is not about reality nor is it biographical nor, as its Spanish title might suggest, is it a history. It is a novel that contradicts its own fictional intent by denying everything about itself. It's Jorge Luis Borges confessing that he didn't mean any of his Fictions. It's Paul of Tarsus repudiating all his repudiations of Judaism. In short, it's a story of paradox presented so the reader can't escape its pr Down the Peruvian Rabbit Hole The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, the book's English title, is not about reality nor is it biographical nor, as its Spanish title might suggest, is it a history. It is a novel that contradicts its own fictional intent by denying everything about itself. It's Jorge Luis Borges confessing that he didn't mean any of his Fictions. It's Paul of Tarsus repudiating all his repudiations of Judaism. In short, it's a story of paradox presented so the reader can't escape its presence as literature. Alejandro Mayta never existed; and he never had a schoolboy relationship with the author. None of the various interviews conducted by the author is authentic because all of the subjects are also fictional. That they give inconsistent and contradictory responses about Mayta, his character, and his activities is down solely to the author's whimsy. The revolutionary events in which Mayta was involved never happened; nor did their aftermath as part of the history of Peru. After admitting these facts, the author then goes on to interview the 'real' Alejandro Mayta, who has no more existence than his first fictional incarnation. The technique Vargas Llosa uses is not unlike that of Alice in Wonderland: absurdity asking for a suspension of judgment. In Alice, the reason is to demonstrate the illogicality of several linguistic theories disapproved of by Lewis Carrol. My guess is that Vargas Llosa has a similar intent in a Drink Me, Eat Me sequence that the reader is force-fed. Much is mocked as absurd by Vargas Llosa, with about as much entertainment value, if substantially less comedy, as in Alice. Revolutionaries are rather dim-witted adolescents. Old revolutionaries are even more dim-witted and they lie even more than adolescents. Novelists can't distinguish between fact and fiction; and even if they can they prefer to lie as a matter of principle. Those on the bottom of the social ladder have been there for a very long time and are more or less habituated to a life of ugliness and filth. Revolution, particularly Marxist-inspired revolution, doesn't do much to change this condition, except to increase the general level of paranoia. Historians, like reporters, are little more than collectors of gossip. Alejandro Mayta begins and ends in a garbage dump. In between is mostly metaphorical waste and disorder which increases progressively as the essential fact of modern Peruvian history. It is unclear if this is meant seriously or ironically by Vargas Llosa. If the former, then his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the country's invasion by Cuban and Bolivian troops, who are repulsed by U.S. Marines, doesn't make sense. If the latter, then his constant realistic references to Peruvian racism, poverty and inequality don't make sense. The apparent intent is to sketch a sort of drear dystopia that somehow continues to function while its entire population slowly starves to death. The one thing that is clear is that no one is content in Vargas Llosa's Peru. The ruling class is continuously threatened with homicide and a lack of decent coffee. The middle classes, particularly lawyers, can't continue living comfortably and are moving to Mexico. The poor, if they can, get off by bus to Venezuela; if they can't, they end up in a rapidly expanding Lima slum, probably in the cocaine trade. The mountain Indians live in a parallel universe buffered by coca leaves. The revolutionaries of the far right and the far left spend their time killing one another off in the shanty towns, mountains and jungles. Some reviewers read Alejandro Mayta as a novel of hope. That it was written at all is, I suppose, a sign of such hope. A bit like planting a garden perhaps. But there is certainly nothing in the novel itself that suggests the possibility of a better future for any of its cast of characters. They are all doomed to remain down the rabbit hole forever. Nonetheless, it is an awfully good read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    An exciting and fascinating story, I loved the way Vargas Llosa waves the story of his writing the story of his friend Mayra weaved into experiences of various actors from the drama. More compact and easier to follow than The Green House and Conversation in the Cathedral, Alejandro Mayta also mixes tenses and speakers in the same paragraph in a beautiful mosaic despite the despair and violence that the story recounts. I don't understand why this book does not have more notoriety because it is we An exciting and fascinating story, I loved the way Vargas Llosa waves the story of his writing the story of his friend Mayra weaved into experiences of various actors from the drama. More compact and easier to follow than The Green House and Conversation in the Cathedral, Alejandro Mayta also mixes tenses and speakers in the same paragraph in a beautiful mosaic despite the despair and violence that the story recounts. I don't understand why this book does not have more notoriety because it is well-written, engaging and heart-breaking. The other thing I noticed is that, as MVL talked about in The Perpetual Orgy, there is no judgement on the part of the first person narrator (the stand-in for MVL himself). It is also a terrifying account of Peru over a period of 25 years with escalating violence. Knowing people from Peru, his descriptions of the city in the present time in the book as being beset and besieged by mountains of trash are all accurate. Apparently, there was even a literal mountain of trash inside which - like The Green House or Panteleon - there were sordid brothel-hotels. A fantastic read!

  4. 4 out of 5

    brian

    the mid-sentence jumps from decade to decade initially confuses, but quickly forces the reader to actually experience faulkner's old saw* -- beyond mere reaction and/or influence the past's actual superimposition over the present is one of MVL's major tools and it's given quite the working over in this odd novel. MVL has his cake and eats it too: a deeply political book which also examines the relationship between reality and literature & between history and fiction. unfortunately, MVL creates a the mid-sentence jumps from decade to decade initially confuses, but quickly forces the reader to actually experience faulkner's old saw* -- beyond mere reaction and/or influence the past's actual superimposition over the present is one of MVL's major tools and it's given quite the working over in this odd novel. MVL has his cake and eats it too: a deeply political book which also examines the relationship between reality and literature & between history and fiction. unfortunately, MVL creates a kind of catch-22: in the interest of 'reality**' MVL refuses to get all psychological, refuses to delve too deep into Mayta's marxist/trotskyite/revolutionary psyche; rather, he chooses to tell the rashomon-like story through several sets of eyes & ears. the book suffers from such a cypher of a lead character, but had MVL gone in for all that character development stuff he prolly woulda sacrificed much of the thrust and power of this strange book. (pardon the vagueness, too many reviews spill the beans -- i'd rather irritate the reader of a dumb book report than the potential reader of a novel) *"the past isn't dead. In fact, it's not even past." ** reality, that is, as created by the novelist of this particular story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    ¿Dice la verdad? Reading Mario Vargas Llosa is always a pleasure. Reading this book was no different except the more I read, it wanted to know what really happened? I had just read "La guerra del fin del mundo" about the Brazilian Canudos War of the late 1890s. Guerra was written before "Historia de Mayta" and "Quién mató a Palomino Molero" followed after Mayta. All three books were written in the 1980s and one gets an overall view of Vargas LLosa's view of Latin America. ¿Dice la mentira? This is ¿Dice la verdad? Reading Mario Vargas Llosa is always a pleasure. Reading this book was no different except the more I read, it wanted to know what really happened? I had just read "La guerra del fin del mundo" about the Brazilian Canudos War of the late 1890s. Guerra was written before "Historia de Mayta" and "Quién mató a Palomino Molero" followed after Mayta. All three books were written in the 1980s and one gets an overall view of Vargas LLosa's view of Latin America. ¿Dice la mentira? This is the story of Alejandro Mayta, a man who was involved in a failed revolution attempt by the Trotskyists of Peru in 1958. What can you say about the man? His wife left him while pregnant with their child because his revolution got in the way of their marriage. Oh and the fact, he had homosexual relations with young men didn't help. His obsession with politics began as a youth when he went on a hunger strike empathizing with the poor. One could say he was a complex man. ¿Dice la verdad? Or so it seems. In Vargas LLosa's hands, the story becomes black humour; a farce of subtle proportions. Mayta tries to have the Trotsky party name changed but dealing with the committee is a challenge. Even the party sounds like a joke; there are seven members, but they insist there are six because some want to kick Mayta out. They really don't like him. The Trotskyists don't get along with the communists, the leninistas, the maoists, the reds, whatever is on the left. You can see Vargas Llosa laughing as he writes this book. And then there are the Aprists who run Peru and of course, the CIA and the Americans. It's not just Cold War antics, add in the military who want to run the country and somehow Mayta's idealism is just that, idealism. ¿Dice la mentira? Of course a good sense of humour entails. The committee approves the revolution of Mayta, and he has some reinforcements - Vallejos is a military man who has an axe to grind and some recruits, who are sadly around 15 years of age. Can you say "viva la revolution!" Sí señor and the plans fall apart. Need some cash? Rob the bank. Sadly when they attempt the robbery, they go early and there is little cash available. One bumbling thing after the other. It's funny and sad at the same time. A side note, Sergeant Lituma, the same person in "Death in the Andes" makes his appearance here. ¿Dice la verdad? And then the funniest thing occurs in the final chapter. Don't worry, I won't spoil it. Vargas Llosa (or at least we assume it's him) goes to visit Mayta thirty years after the incident to interview him and write a "novel." Why not a historical book? Because a novel tells the truth. Hmmm, I remember an interview with Juan Gabriel Vasquez who once said that all stories in Latin America are basically lies and a novel gets the truth out of it. So this is the truth? Or a lie? Or somewhere in between? Or did Vargas Llosa just follow along with the other writers? Hmmm. Lots to ponder. I was going to give this a 4.5 but when I read the last chapter, it's definitely a five. Or am I just lying?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Having read so many of his books recently, about a dozen so far, I can only conclude that Mario Vargas Llosa richly deserves his Nobel Prize for Literature. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta is a book that uses fiction to arrive at the ultimate truth to the question: "What kind of person becomes a revolutionary?" A fictionalized Vargas Llosa is the narrator, who is intrigued by news clippings about a terrorist who participated in a rebellion near Jauja and who was caught and imprisoned. We see "M Having read so many of his books recently, about a dozen so far, I can only conclude that Mario Vargas Llosa richly deserves his Nobel Prize for Literature. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta is a book that uses fiction to arrive at the ultimate truth to the question: "What kind of person becomes a revolutionary?" A fictionalized Vargas Llosa is the narrator, who is intrigued by news clippings about a terrorist who participated in a rebellion near Jauja and who was caught and imprisoned. We see "Mayta" at the age of twenty (briefly); at the age of forty, when he is a lonely gay member of the Revolutionary Workers' Party (Trotskyist) who becomes involved, on his own, with a Lieutenant in the Peruvian Army from Jauja; and at sixty, when "Vargas Llosa" (or his creature) catches up with him. The actual terrorist act in Jauja involves two bank robberies, a fruitless march to pick up more rebels at a place called Uchubamba, and the crushing blow when the National Guard is able to respond more quickly than anyone figured. Mayta spends the next twenty years in and out of prison, ending up as an employee of an ice-cream store in Miraflores. Even the "present time" of the novel is a fiction: The narrator writes about an incursion by Bolivia and supported by Castro's Cubans. In response, the U.S. Marines had invaded to protect Peru from falling to pieces. As the fictional narrator "Vargas Llosa" writes, "Besides, I've invented an apocalyptic Peru, devastated by war, terrorism, and foreign intervention." Instead of answering the question, "What kind of person becomes a revolutionary?" the real Vargas Llosa answers another question, "What is real? What is true? And why do no two people ever seem to agree on what actually happens?" Perhaps reality is more complex than anyone guessed. And perhaps Henry Ford was right that History is bunk.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    The Boom becomes respectable, considers its obscure origins, especially those draped in Campesino sloganeering. Regret ensues. (author may move to London here) Paint portrait of failed promise. Further geriatric machisimo may appear.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Gurney

    A loner Trotskyite, Alejandro Mayta, spent decades in Lima doing little but debating revolution. When he meets jailer Lt. Vallejos, a young doer with a bold revolutionary plan, Mayta springs to action. Mario Vargas Llosa brilliantly flashes back-and-forth between present and past as a novelist researches the history of his former schoolmate, Mayta, who co-led a failed rebellion in Jauja, Peru. This is also a tale of a homosexual’s fight against prevailing hatred, a woman’s bitter marriage, and a A loner Trotskyite, Alejandro Mayta, spent decades in Lima doing little but debating revolution. When he meets jailer Lt. Vallejos, a young doer with a bold revolutionary plan, Mayta springs to action. Mario Vargas Llosa brilliantly flashes back-and-forth between present and past as a novelist researches the history of his former schoolmate, Mayta, who co-led a failed rebellion in Jauja, Peru. This is also a tale of a homosexual’s fight against prevailing hatred, a woman’s bitter marriage, and a tale of personal betrayal. The story is wonderfully written, and amusing with the occasionally comic rebel plot and the infighting of Communist splinter groups, the RWP and its tinnier offshoot the RWP (T). Vargas Llosa fans will smile at Sargeant Lituma's inevitable cameo. The author weaves Mayta's hapless idealism with its ugly consequences, personally and politically. The present is a Peru beset by civil war, with ruthless Maoists and repressive Civil Guard troops escalating atrocities upon each other. A subtext is the real, horrific civil war of 1980's Peru, fought between the barbaric, Maoist Shining Path and the overreaching military of the authoritarian government that was quick to torture and thought nothing of bombing innocent civilians as it pursued rebels. Mayta, who as a child went on a hunger strike in sympathy with the downtrodden, had the noblest of intentions, but helped bring on far worse conditions for those same poor.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    What a writer is this Mr. Llosa. He is the most accessible of the Latin American writers and he wears his Nobel laureate status well. This is the third book of his that I have read, and I plan to keep going. He is dexterous and imaginative and in this tale floats seamlessly - almost mid-sentence - from character to character and present to past. While this is usually annoying to me, Mr. Llosa accomplishes it in a way that leaves you in awe of his skill. This book starts slowly, but builds in sus What a writer is this Mr. Llosa. He is the most accessible of the Latin American writers and he wears his Nobel laureate status well. This is the third book of his that I have read, and I plan to keep going. He is dexterous and imaginative and in this tale floats seamlessly - almost mid-sentence - from character to character and present to past. While this is usually annoying to me, Mr. Llosa accomplishes it in a way that leaves you in awe of his skill. This book starts slowly, but builds in suspense and tension, dribbling out details that move the story forward. It's a story about a rather hapless Peruvian Trotskyite revolutionary (Is this enticing, or what? How many books have you read about hapless Peruvian Trotskyite revolutionaries?) whose theoretical intensity is suddenly challenged by an action-ready soldier who persuades him to plunge into armed action. The resulting events, which are revealed through interviews with witnesses and participants, are dramatic, shocking, hilarious, and tragic. In the course of all this, you get a feel for the pain, suffering, and endurance of the people of South America, struggling to find their way in this post colonial period. Mr. Llosa is a marvelous story teller. Do try him. Start with Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Burnett

    While I find Mario Vargas Llosa's work inconsistent, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta is a prose masterpiece. The narrator goes in search of the truth about Alejandro Mayta's days as a long ago revolutionary. The story is told from the perspective of those who knew or knew of Mayta years before. Vargas Llosa demonstrates an incredible command of characterization and point of view. Recommended particularly for fiction and aspiring fiction writers. While I find Mario Vargas Llosa's work inconsistent, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta is a prose masterpiece. The narrator goes in search of the truth about Alejandro Mayta's days as a long ago revolutionary. The story is told from the perspective of those who knew or knew of Mayta years before. Vargas Llosa demonstrates an incredible command of characterization and point of view. Recommended particularly for fiction and aspiring fiction writers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    When ever I come to names such as “Llosa”, “Borges”, “Cortazar”, “Fuentes”... I wish I knew Spanish language, as I’m sure works by these authors would have a different aroma and melody in their own tongues. Llosa is, for me, one of the greatest story tellers, whose works give me deliciousness in Persian as well, (if it’s translated by Abdollah Kowsari, for example). Mario Bargas Llosa uses a highly sophisticated techniques with a very delicate language in multiple viewpoint, as if I’m listening When ever I come to names such as “Llosa”, “Borges”, “Cortazar”, “Fuentes”... I wish I knew Spanish language, as I’m sure works by these authors would have a different aroma and melody in their own tongues. Llosa is, for me, one of the greatest story tellers, whose works give me deliciousness in Persian as well, (if it’s translated by Abdollah Kowsari, for example). Mario Bargas Llosa uses a highly sophisticated techniques with a very delicate language in multiple viewpoint, as if I’m listening to “Sare”, my childhood story tellers whom supposed to drown me in sleep, but was keeping me awake instead. Llosa takes you to a place, and while you get used to the situation, become a bit relax, he leaves you for another situation, another character in another place, force you to follow him as a sleepwalker, burning of curiosity, apprehension and restlessness, while he continue to make new situations with new chracters out of nothing, absolutely relax with a smile on his lips. He doesn’t explain the characters, but procreates them and leave them on your lap, and disappears… بسیاری از آثار ماریو بارگاس یوسا به فارسی برگردانده شده. آنها که من دیده ام؛ "زندگی واقعی آلخاندرو مایتا" / حسن مرتضوی (ترجمه ی بدی نیست)، "سال های سگی" / احمد گلشیری (ترجمه ی خوبی ست)، "عصر قهرمان" / هوشنگ اسدی (ترجمه ی خوبی ست)، "مردی که حرف می زند" / قاسم صنعوی، "موج آفرینی"/ مهدی غبرائی (ترجمه ی روانی ست)، "جنگ آخر زمان"/ عبدالله کوثری(ترجمه بسیار خوبی ست)، "گفتگو در کاتدرال"/ عبدالله کوثری (ترجمه ی شاهکاری ست) و... برخی از این آثار را ابتدا به فارسی خوانده ام، و دیگر آثار را برای بازخوانی به ترجمه ی آنها به فارسی رجوع کرده ام. تجربه نشان داده که حال و هوای ترجمه ی فارسی، بهررو با ترجمه به زبان های انگلیسی، فرانسه و دانمارکی متفاوت است. در خواندن آثار بارگاس یوسا، بورخس، سروانتس، فوئنتس، کورتازار... حسرت ندانستن زبان اسپانیولی در من بیدار می شود چرا که به خوبی حس می کنم این آثار به زبان اصلی موسیقی متفاوتی دارند. با این وجود، روایت های ماریو بارگاس یوسا بهر زبانی لذت بخش است. روایت های یوسا بوی "قصه گویی" می دهد. او عادت دارد از جایی به جای دیگر برود و همین که به صحنه ای عادت می کنی، یوسا به محل و شخصیتی دیگر می گریزد، در صندلی هنوز جا نیفتاده ای که تو را از جا بلند می کند و به صحنه ی دیگر می کشاند، روی صندلی سرد تازه ای بنشینی تا ادامه ی روایت یوسا دوباره گرمت کند. یوسا قصه گویی ست حرفه ای که گاه از هیچ، همه چیز می سازد. با یوسا بسیار جاهای ندیده را دیده ام؛ برزیل را، پرو را و... بسیار جاها که دیده ام؛ وین، رم، آمستردام را را به گونه ای دیگر تماشا کرده ام... در کوچه ها و خیابان ها و رستوران ها و قهوه خانه های بسیاری نشسته ام، گاه آنقدر نزدیک و آشنا که انگاری در همان خانه ای که یوسا وصف کرده. روایت یوسا زنده می شود و در جان می نشیند. وقتی رمانی از یوسا را شروع می کنی باید وقایع و شخصیت ها را در اولین صفحه ها به خاطر بسپاری و از نام و مشخصات هیچ کدامشان نگذری. شخصیت ها و موقعیت ها در همان فصل اول و دوم مثل رگباری فرو می ریزند، و در فصول بعدی آنها را عین پازلی کنار هم می نشاند و تابلوی بی نظیرش را می سازد. زبان شخصیت ها از یکی به دیگری، همراه با روحیه و کار و بار و زندگی شان، تغییر می کند. یوسا دستت را می گیرد و تو را با خود وارد قصه می کند، همین که درگیر فضا و آدم ها شدی، غیبش می زند، تنهایت می گذارد تا انتهای روایت همپای شخصیت ها به سفر ادامه دهی. از یک موقعیت به دیگری، به دفتری، رستورانی، خانه ای و بستری، با آدم هایی که در نهایت خشم و خشونت، به کودکانی معصوم می مانند. گاه نشسته ام و مدت ها به عکس یوسا نگاه کرده ام؛ این معصومیت لبخند یوساست که همه ی قصه هایش را پر کرده؟

  12. 4 out of 5

    Orfeas Hou

    It's been a long time since i read such a well written novel. The characters, the plot and the details, all seem so real that i got that "were those real events after all? " feeling. The two dominant themes of the book: *Revolution. **Who is the narrator? (mr. Llosa, mr. Mayta or mr. Mayta-Llosa. Very minor {SPOILER} There is another very major theme that plays an important role: that of the sexuality of one of the main characters. I think i should be in the descreption of the book. It ought to. Alt It's been a long time since i read such a well written novel. The characters, the plot and the details, all seem so real that i got that "were those real events after all? " feeling. The two dominant themes of the book: *Revolution. **Who is the narrator? (mr. Llosa, mr. Mayta or mr. Mayta-Llosa. Very minor {SPOILER} There is another very major theme that plays an important role: that of the sexuality of one of the main characters. I think i should be in the descreption of the book. It ought to. Although i loved it as a novel, i can't ignore the political position of the writter. And no matter how much Llosa tries to be neutral, he isn't. I won't say anything that spoils the experience. Just that i disagree with mr Llosa's position. And yes, he does take a position despite all the effort he puts into convincing us (or even himself) otherwise. (The Greek translation was exemplary)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Linda Abhors the New GR Design

    Read in the haze of my Master's days.......probably need to re-read, since I've got a stronger background in the history now. Don't remember being moved by it, though. What I find about Vargas Llosa is that I like his fiction, just not his historical fiction--I find that he goes overboard with all of the info/details--as though, now that he's done the research, he has to fit it all in there, Caleb Carr-style. And Death in the Andes proves that he's in no way objective on things political. Still, Read in the haze of my Master's days.......probably need to re-read, since I've got a stronger background in the history now. Don't remember being moved by it, though. What I find about Vargas Llosa is that I like his fiction, just not his historical fiction--I find that he goes overboard with all of the info/details--as though, now that he's done the research, he has to fit it all in there, Caleb Carr-style. And Death in the Andes proves that he's in no way objective on things political. Still, since it was short, I might give it another chance.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob Newman

    Is truth garbage or is the garbage the truth ? People always repeat the phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover", but the cover of my copy of THE REAL LIFE OF ALEJANDRO MAYTA expresses the content more appropriately than almost any other cover I can remember in that it points directly to Peru and the central problem of literature. A mass of Peruvian-style figures stand in darkness, almost obscured. You have to look carefully to see them at all. A single chink in the cell door, a single beam of l Is truth garbage or is the garbage the truth ? People always repeat the phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover", but the cover of my copy of THE REAL LIFE OF ALEJANDRO MAYTA expresses the content more appropriately than almost any other cover I can remember in that it points directly to Peru and the central problem of literature. A mass of Peruvian-style figures stand in darkness, almost obscured. You have to look carefully to see them at all. A single chink in the cell door, a single beam of light in a dark place---all that is revealed in color are the eyes and brow of a solitary man. Do we know what is happening in Peru---exploited, misgoverned, once racked by revolution and still by poverty ? Can we know what really happens in life ? Can we understand the motivations and deepest emotions of other human beings ? Can literature actually create or, at least, reproduce these ? Vargas Llosa creates a gripping novel out of unlikely pieces. An obscure Trotskyite revolutionary, a member of a party whose membership stands at seven, gets involved in an uprising in an Andean town in 1958. The author-as-narrator is in Paris at the time. He returns to Peru later and in 1983, spends a year trying to track down the people involved (family, colleagues, co-conspirators), to learn what motivated this event and its central character, Alejandro Mayta. He interviews everyone he can find. We jump between these interviews and the re-creation (or is it the actual truth ?) of what happened twenty-five years before. The time line is obscured. We shift constantly between two or more times on every other page, sometimes even on one page. This is a literary trick which some people may find annoying or disconcerting, yet I urge you to stay with the novel. Slowly, the author puts together a picture of an idealistic revolutionary who dissented from nearly everything. The sources tell him of a homosexual dreamer who lived a secretive life in every respect, who had no money, and who was (or wasn't) the inspiration behind the Andean mini-revolt of 1958. "If he had been able to control his sentiments and instincts, he wouldn't have led the double life he led, he wouldn't have had to deal with the intrinsic split between being, by day, a clandestine militant totally given over to the task of changing the world, and, by night, a pervert on the prowl..." We begin to understand Mayta, though some of the interviewees are obviously lying. But Vargas Llosa creates a present (1983) in which Peru is overwhelmed by a Vietnam-like war---invaded by leftwing Cuban and Bolivian forces with Soviet help, who are counterattacked by American marines and airforce. Cuzco is destroyed, the country is collapsing. Though Sendero Luminoso did bring Peru almost to its knees, none of this happened. So can we believe the stories told by everyone about Alejandro Mayta ? Is the story about Mayta years ago true as written by our narrator ? I mean, he's obviously exaggerating even about the present. Suddenly, after a vivid description of the uprising, the narrative ends. The Rashomon-like last 34 pages reveal everything or nothing. We are left with questions, but no answers. Vargas Llosa writes, "Since it is impossible to know what's really happening, we Peruvians lie, invent, dream, and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary." No matter what you decide, if you live in Peru, you'll have to face the garbage in the streets. In America, it's on TV and in the White House. There's a lot of garbage around us. Is it in people's minds as well ? Can there be truth ? This is the question this powerful, disturbing book leaves with you. A tour de force.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lilly

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What a fabulous book. What sets this book apart from any other I've ever read is Vargas Llosa's technique. The novel begins with the narrator who speaks in first person. He is a writer and he is looking to write a novel about Alejandro Mayta, a Peruvian revolutionary whom he believes responsible for fuelstarting the revolutionary movement in Peru. The novel progresses as he interviews those who knew Mayta and can add another layer to the full story. The twist, though, is that the narrator's inte What a fabulous book. What sets this book apart from any other I've ever read is Vargas Llosa's technique. The novel begins with the narrator who speaks in first person. He is a writer and he is looking to write a novel about Alejandro Mayta, a Peruvian revolutionary whom he believes responsible for fuelstarting the revolutionary movement in Peru. The novel progresses as he interviews those who knew Mayta and can add another layer to the full story. The twist, though, is that the narrator's interviews are interwoven with Mayta's own story--or what we believe is Mayta's story, but is essentially the story that the narrator is writing about Mayta, in other words, his novel. The segways were difficult to follow at first. You soon get used to it, though. The changes occur during the narrator's interviews, as those are the people who interacted with Mayta. The story will go from the present (the interview) to the "past" (the events themselves that are being discussed in the interview), except it isn't really the past; it's the narrator's novel. The switch from first person to third person seemed like a huge road bump placed deliberately to slow the reader. It worked. It forced me to read each and every word (I usually skim) so that I wouldn't miss anything. The novel ends with the narrator's final interview, Mayta himself. It takes place after the narrator's own novel has ended and serves as a finale to (outer) novel. Once I got the hang of his technique, Vargas Llosa's novel seemed nothing short of genius. As for the plot, there is a lot that is highly relevant to our world today. For instance, "Information in this country has ceased to be objective and has become pure fantasy--in newspapers, radio, television, and ordinary conversation. 'To report' among us now means either to interpret reality according to our desires or fears, or to say simply what is convenient. It's an attempt to make up for our ignorance of what's going on--which in our heart of hearts we understand is irremediable and definitive. Since it is impossible to know what's really happening, we Peruvians lie, invent, dream and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary." It saddened me to learn that Mayta, whom the narrator portrayed in his novel as this passionate, undying revolutionary, is in the end of the outer novel disillusioned with politics, broken and simply dealing with the cotidian realities of mundane life. I related to it on a personal level, sad that my own passion for activism seems to all lie in my past and that now, those undertakings all seem not only long ago but somehow irrelevant. Why does activism resonate so well with youth? Why do we as adults, even if that fervor once lived within us, abandon our passion and deem it insignificant simply to carry on with our lives passively, the same passivity we once denounced?

  16. 4 out of 5

    El Avestruz Liado

    When does reality ends and fiction starts? This is the guiding thread driving this book. Set in a fictional Peru in the eighties in which a writer (probably an alter ego for Vargas himself) is trying to reconstruct one of the first communist skirmishes in the Andes. Of course all versions are contradictory and the protagonist, Alejandro Mayta is quite a complex character to understand, whose motivations are never consistent as related by the ones who knew him. One is presented with a character wh When does reality ends and fiction starts? This is the guiding thread driving this book. Set in a fictional Peru in the eighties in which a writer (probably an alter ego for Vargas himself) is trying to reconstruct one of the first communist skirmishes in the Andes. Of course all versions are contradictory and the protagonist, Alejandro Mayta is quite a complex character to understand, whose motivations are never consistent as related by the ones who knew him. One is presented with a character who is quite naive but with good intentions and a real compromise to society who happens to be immersed in one of the manifold leftwing parties which, of course, are all enemies between them, mostly for ideological trivialities. Eventually Mayta gets himself involved in a communist plot for which there ain't a clear account of what really happened: nobody seems to really know who pulled the strings or why things happened the way they happened. Of course, there are some clear winners and there ain't any ambiguity about that. At the very end even the issue of who really was Mayta receives a dramatic 90 degrees turnaround. Now that Vargas Llosa holds the Nobel prize it might seem superfluous to say that he is one of the greatest writers alive, nonetheless this is so evident in the narrative structure which so seamlessly changes between present and future (and narrators) even in the same paragraph. This might make sound the book a bit daunting to read, but it is done so masterfully that it is easy to follow the temporal and narrative structure and the story is slowly peeled off like an onion. The whole mixture of the idealistic past and the hectic present, the rosy revolution envisioned by a few and the actual happening of a bloody rising in the present and, more importantly, the mix between the story as written by an author, as recalled by the ones who were there and how it might actually happen are a unique mixture in literature. We are really in front of a work by one of world's leading author at the top of his powers. If pressed to find a blemish I would say that the prose, while perfectly adequate and certainly better than most authors is not at the level of Vargas at his very best (read the first chapters of "The Feast of the Goat" for a sample). Finally, don't be misguided by the name of the book. This is not the *real* life of Alejandro Mayta, actually his real life is the mystery that is left to the reader.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Flynn

    This book was an excellent read. The sign of a truly great writer lies in their ability to convince you so thoroughly of the validity of a perspective, that you assume they share that view. This story is less about a man, than about why the narrator felt the need to re-imagine his struggle. In fact, the Mayta about which he writes is not lost to history, but is accessible to him the entire time he writes the story of his life. Yet the 'real' Mayta is only sought out when the narrator is in the fi This book was an excellent read. The sign of a truly great writer lies in their ability to convince you so thoroughly of the validity of a perspective, that you assume they share that view. This story is less about a man, than about why the narrator felt the need to re-imagine his struggle. In fact, the Mayta about which he writes is not lost to history, but is accessible to him the entire time he writes the story of his life. Yet the 'real' Mayta is only sought out when the narrator is in the final stages of crafting his story. The present of this narrative is hard to define, from the very beginning of the novel, Llosa weaves in and out between a past and a present that become so intertwined it causes the reader to question whether any defined time period ever actually existed. The answer to this and the question of who Mayta was, leads the reader to understand that every detail is neither wholly fact or fiction, and that it is not so important to be able to distinguish between the two. This book calls into question how it is that we construct literature and what boundaries exist between fact and fiction. I feel that I need to read it about five more times to even begin to peel back the layers. It is truly a masterful piece of fiction.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Like everything he writes, this novel is quite readable, with an interesting technique for moving from present to past, from first person to third person, so it all becomes an amorphous whole. From the eighties to the sixties in Peru, from the perspective of a famous novelist to that of the unlucky trotskyist survivor of a failed revolution attempt, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta takes us into a time machine, as the novelist tries to figure out what Mayta's motives were, and what happened afte Like everything he writes, this novel is quite readable, with an interesting technique for moving from present to past, from first person to third person, so it all becomes an amorphous whole. From the eighties to the sixties in Peru, from the perspective of a famous novelist to that of the unlucky trotskyist survivor of a failed revolution attempt, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta takes us into a time machine, as the novelist tries to figure out what Mayta's motives were, and what happened after he was imprisoned for his role in the insurrection. Has he lost his ideals? Is he content to work in an ice cream shop and live with his family in a slum near the prison where he was locked up for over a decade? Vargas Llosa is not so hard on revolutionaries and indigenous people as he will become in "Death in the Andes," but then the Sendero Luminoso has not yet become the violent organization that it was until "Presidente Gonzalo" was captured. With his Nobel Prize, Vargas Llosa is set in stone, but it is interesting to trace his evolution in novels like this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    The Real Life of Aljendro Mayta (1984) is another virtuoso performance from Nobel Prize winning Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The narrator of the story is a novelist investigating the life of Mayta, who participated in a fiasco of a rebellion 30 years before. The story is told from two perspectives, that of the author in the present facing an uncertain future in which Peru is being invaded by foreign forces and that of flashbacks of the people who were involved in Mayta's failed revolution The Real Life of Aljendro Mayta (1984) is another virtuoso performance from Nobel Prize winning Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The narrator of the story is a novelist investigating the life of Mayta, who participated in a fiasco of a rebellion 30 years before. The story is told from two perspectives, that of the author in the present facing an uncertain future in which Peru is being invaded by foreign forces and that of flashbacks of the people who were involved in Mayta's failed revolution of 30 years ago. The shifts of perspective that take place between paragraphs are seamless. Some of the factional communist stuff is somewhat tedious, but Llosa brings to life a fervent radical who is defeated over time by his pure ideals. It's hard not to compare these happenings to those of Peru who has had a long war with radical s over the years and seems to have achieved some stability even though it, like most of its neighbors still has a very uneven economy and quality of life between "the haves" and "the have nots."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hector Arteaga

    This was the first book I have read from Mario Vargas Llosa. I find myself disappointed for not started reading Mario Vargas Llosa sooner. I enjoyed his portrayal of the Latin American revolutionary as an enigmatic character, viewed differently by everyone who knows him. Vargas Llosa's writing keeps you on your toes as the narrator keeps changing as abruptly as the scene. For me, a Mexican born U.S. citizen, who enjoys following the current events and politics of Latin America, it portrays the c This was the first book I have read from Mario Vargas Llosa. I find myself disappointed for not started reading Mario Vargas Llosa sooner. I enjoyed his portrayal of the Latin American revolutionary as an enigmatic character, viewed differently by everyone who knows him. Vargas Llosa's writing keeps you on your toes as the narrator keeps changing as abruptly as the scene. For me, a Mexican born U.S. citizen, who enjoys following the current events and politics of Latin America, it portrays the confusion and forces the same old question, "Whom can I believe"? Vargas Llosa, seems to have the same conclusion as I, "believe no one"!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Allan MacDonell

    Everything is fiction in The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, especially the inclusion of a confiding, very credible author who butts in intermittently to alert the reader to just where the narrative has veered off from the factual source material. In short, no real life has been included in this tale of Peruvian insurrection and failed garbage disposal policy, other than the veritable truth that life is a motherfucker to the true believer.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Gaughan

    I think this might just be a masterpiece, although I'm not sure whether the "this is a novel" conceit quite works or not. Its power comes from its evocation of soured leftist ideals and its demonstration of how small past events influence the dominant events of the present. Fascinating, sad, and frightening throughout. I think this might just be a masterpiece, although I'm not sure whether the "this is a novel" conceit quite works or not. Its power comes from its evocation of soured leftist ideals and its demonstration of how small past events influence the dominant events of the present. Fascinating, sad, and frightening throughout.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Pogan

    The story of an idealist who tries to inspire a Communist revolution in the 50's Peru. In spite of his idealism he is not well suited for what he is attempting which results in disastrous consequences especially once he takes actual revolutionary action. Vargas Llosa wrote the book as a fictitious author who is narrating the book as if it were about a true story. His writing was so brilliant that it was difficult to keep in mind that this was actually a fictional novel and not about true events. The story of an idealist who tries to inspire a Communist revolution in the 50's Peru. In spite of his idealism he is not well suited for what he is attempting which results in disastrous consequences especially once he takes actual revolutionary action. Vargas Llosa wrote the book as a fictitious author who is narrating the book as if it were about a true story. His writing was so brilliant that it was difficult to keep in mind that this was actually a fictional novel and not about true events.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Even when he is not at top form, Vargas Llosa always has interesting things to say. As a North American, I enjoy the manner in which Vargas Llosa describes the physical, cultural and historical contexts of his novels. He offers arm-chair tourism at its very best. In the Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, Vargas Llosa paints a wonderful picture of life in the Andes and the social environment in which the Shining Path (Sendera Luminoso) phenomenon appeared. I give the Real Life of Alejandro Mayta three Even when he is not at top form, Vargas Llosa always has interesting things to say. As a North American, I enjoy the manner in which Vargas Llosa describes the physical, cultural and historical contexts of his novels. He offers arm-chair tourism at its very best. In the Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, Vargas Llosa paints a wonderful picture of life in the Andes and the social environment in which the Shining Path (Sendera Luminoso) phenomenon appeared. I give the Real Life of Alejandro Mayta three stars to reflect the fact he has also written four and five star books which are even better than this very solid effort.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike Blamires

    Deliberately confused or poorly translated and laid out? This story of failure to connect with real revolution due to inter sectional disputations could have been so much better. The narrative leaps back and forth from the accounts of the protagonists with no warning. Maybe, I was not on the ball in keeping up with the changes in the text but such a conceit alienated this reader. Paragraph spacing is a good tool for engaging readers when this is done but what do I know, I am a mere reader.

  26. 4 out of 5

    e.

    REVOLUTION AIN'T FUNNY 1. A novelist is someone who is not ashamed of, nay, who is proud of, concocting lies. 2. A novel is something, despair is nothing. 3. A requiem for a revolution unwarranted, unprepared, unconsummated. 4. It goes without saying -then again here we are saying it- that building characters is among the most important aspects of any novel. What makes or breaks many a literary work, then, is directly related to whether the characters are compelling and believable. Make no mistake, REVOLUTION AIN'T FUNNY 1. A novelist is someone who is not ashamed of, nay, who is proud of, concocting lies. 2. A novel is something, despair is nothing. 3. A requiem for a revolution unwarranted, unprepared, unconsummated. 4. It goes without saying -then again here we are saying it- that building characters is among the most important aspects of any novel. What makes or breaks many a literary work, then, is directly related to whether the characters are compelling and believable. Make no mistake, human beings, real or fictional, are not mechanical. By believable I don’t mean they should be predictable, but rather, maintain a certain consistency. 5. Building of a fictional character: that of Alexandro Mayta. The author does it with painstaking precision, digging up (or making up) info about his subject-matter inch by inch. Yet the multiplicity of the observers, and consequently that of the points of view, makes the reader ask: But who really is Alexandro Mayta? Even though one silently acknowledges that, no matter how contradictory the accounts are, Mayta is all of them (or perhaps none). The Rashomon Effect: Multiple subjective, alternative, self-serving, and contradictory narratives of the same incident/person. 6. The technique of story-telling adds to the profound and layered structure. There are two, sometimes more stories being told at the same time, forcing the reader to be part of the reading experience, not just a bystander. One has to be vigilant, because the story-teller is a joker that sets traps along the way, as if to demand the reader’s complete attention, jumping from story to story exactly at the right place to make one question oneself. It is fun to pinpoint those traps and rewarding; but also demanding. 7. But against what background? Revolution. Or attempt at that. A very miserable one at that. But there is one thing that struck me: How little the modern literature seems to be addressing inequality and poverty and misery. But there is all these, there certainly is all these. 8. Llosa seems to be very well-versed in Marxist and revolutionary jargon. No wonder he pursued revolution some time somewhere. But overall, the story is almost comical against a very dark background: A tragicomedy. One does not know whether to laugh at the extreme naiveté of the protagonist, or to be mad at the harsh reality of human-kind that does not, alas, reward the good. 9. The narrator, himself fictional, melts into his subject-matter so much so that “I” and “he” are used interchangeably at times. 10. A novel about giving up on one’s country. 11. “The veteran revolutionary in decline who one fine day discovers action and throws himself into it without thinking, impatient, hopeful that the fighting and the marching are going to recompense him for years of impotence -that’s Mayta of those days, the one I perceive best among all the other Maytas.” (p.166) 12. And there is the gayness. Although I can say I am well-versed neither with the communist nor with the homosexual literature, I have been under the impression that communism's had a problematic relationship with homosexuality. "Mainstream communism" whatever that is supposed to mean, regards homosexuality as an abnormality, which, just like the other irrationalities and unnatural phenomena that exist in the society, is caused by the market relations and can only be cured when those unwholesome and unhealthy structures change by the advent of communism.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    It was sort of hard to follow and kind of slow to get to the big reveal then it was anti climactic when revealed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karlo Mikhail

    Condescendingly cynical. Counter-revolutionary overall. Somehow mildly amusing depiction of Trotskyist sects.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/08/boo... http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/08/boo...

  30. 4 out of 5

    James

    The same criticisms I wrote about 'Travesuras de la Niña Mala' hold true for 'Historia de Mata', only more apparent and harsher. The arrogant tone of Vargas Llosa - uselesly inserting himself in the novel as a character as an attempt to add some kind of postmodern experiment in this already underdeveloped story - is definitely annoying if not boring. His arrogance pollutes into other terrains of the novel as well, oversimplifying political ideologies he does not agree with (anymore). And in this The same criticisms I wrote about 'Travesuras de la Niña Mala' hold true for 'Historia de Mata', only more apparent and harsher. The arrogant tone of Vargas Llosa - uselesly inserting himself in the novel as a character as an attempt to add some kind of postmodern experiment in this already underdeveloped story - is definitely annoying if not boring. His arrogance pollutes into other terrains of the novel as well, oversimplifying political ideologies he does not agree with (anymore). And in this novel, the character development is blatantly cheap: when the main character - which the author diabolizes from the beginning, while attempting (and failing) to seem objective anyway - out of the blue appears to be a closet homosexual, I just threw the book someplace far off and decided I could spend my time much better in a million different ways.

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