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Search tags: Mario-Vargas-Llosa
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quote 2017-12-14 05:23
(...) człowiek nie zna sam siebie, dopuki pewne rzeczy nie przydarzą się właśnie jemu.
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review 2017-09-03 18:32
The Discreet Hero, Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. Edith Grossman
The Discreet Hero: A Novel - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

This book put me in a bind: while I found the story and characters engaging, fun, even, there are aspects that offended me. As I read, I would wonder: "Is this attitude or behavior endorsed by the author, or just described by him in depicting this place and these personalities?" By the end, I decided that there are definite ideologies at work here, including the beliefs that when it comes to family, blood is all; that the younger generation is responsible for squandering the hard work of their parents'; and the conservative viewpoint that if one only works hard enough, one can be successful. Other troubling attitudes that are questioned by characters but nevertheless feel condoned by the narrative: blaming victims of rape or sexual coercion; treating women as objects; racism; masculine pride as more important than the lives of loved ones.


After I finished the book, I read several reviews as I tried to work out my opinion of it. These mention that Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature but that this may not be his best work; that he used to be a social progressive but became a conservative who ran for president of Peru; that some characters appear in other books of his; that some elements are based on real events and his own life.


The book is divided between two alternating and converging narratives with separate protagonists, both fitting the "discreet hero" label of the title. The stories take place in two different areas of Peru, one Lima, one provincial, and their plots appear to have no connection. When they link up, it's very satisfying, even though the connection is quite minor. Each plot has elements of a mystery-thriller that propel the story; I found it hard to put down. The characters are often charming and easy to root for (until they're not). In story one, a man who worked his way up from nothing and owns a transport company is anonymously threatened unless he pays for protection; he refuses. In story two, a man on the verge of retirement and a long-awaited trip with his wife and son finds his life upheaved when his wealthy boss decides to marry his servant to punish his errant sons; at the same time, the protagonist's teenaged son is being approached by a mysterious stranger who may or may not be real, the devil, an angel, or just the kid fucking with his parents (this last mystery is left ambiguous).


Other elements I enjoyed included the relationship between the second protagonist and his wife, his feelings about art's role in life, the police sergeant from the first story, and learning about Peruvian life across two settings.

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review 2016-05-21 12:35
"Cinco Esquinas", de Mario Vargas LLosa. Qué bien le ha sentado a este hombre lo de la Preysler.
Cinco Esquinas (HISPANICA) - Mario Vargas Llosa

Ya hacía mucho tiempo que no mandaba ningún libro al Salón de la Fama, pero este se merece entrar con todos los honores. Podría pegarme el moco y decir que he leído mucho de Vargas Llosa, pero, a decir verdad, solamente leí "La fiesta del Chivo" (otra obra maestra). Parece ser que entre aquél y este se le ha escapado algún que otro bodrio (como "El sueño del celta"), pero en este ha vuelto por sus fueros.

No comentaré mucho para no hacer spoiler, pero tiene de todo lo que se puede esperar en una novela magníficamente construida, que engancha desde el principio, con personajes con nombres antológicos como "Juan Peineta" o "La Retaquita", cosas que parecen pájaros y son peces...  y que encima termina de una forma sencillamente genial.

Poco más se puede pedir a una novela. Va directa al podium de lecturas de este año.

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review 2015-10-26 01:01
The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa
El héroe discreto (Spanish Edition) - Mario Vargas Llosa

With a bit of patience, this turns out to be an entertaining story about fathers and sons, and about men standing up to intimidation. Its title is oddly chosen; calling anyone in the book heroic seems a bit of a stretch, and certainly no one is discreet.


Felicito Yanaque is a businessman in Piura, Peru, who receives letters demanding protection money but refuses to be bullied. Meanwhile, in Lima, Rigoberto is on the verge of retirement when he’s drawn into his boss’s scheme to disinherit a pair of ungrateful sons. The story takes time to pick up, and there are unnecessary tangents, particularly in the first half. Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading it; the novel ultimately goes the melodramatic route rather than (as it initially appears) examining the state of law and order in Peru or the moral dilemmas Felicito faces in refusing the extortionists’ demands. But it is entertaining melodrama and the characters realistic enough to support it.


In fact, this book is … fine, which is an odd thing to say about a novel by a Nobel laureate. It’s well-written, but not to the point that one stops to admire the author’s use of language. The setting and characters feel strangely old-fashioned, although the book is nominally set in modern Peru. It has a compelling plot that the characters themselves compare to a telenovela by the end. This is a perfectly readable book, but not an important one.

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review 2015-08-01 16:20
"Wojsko to odrażające doświadczenie" (Jan XXIII)
Miasto i psy - Kazimierz Piekarec,Mario Vargas Llosa

Książka po części autobiograficzna, swego czasu wywołała niezły skandal i była bodajże najgłośniejszym debiutem. Mimo, że od ukazania się minęło przeszło pół wieku w wojsku tak naprawdę niewiele się nie zmieniło. Może teraz kiedy armię mamy głownie zawodową, w mniejszym stopniu dochodzą do opinii publicznej informacje o fali, rygorze, hierarchii. Wszyscy pamiętamy film Kroll, to niczym filmowa adaptacja części książki „Miasto i psy”.

Zresztą czemu się dziwić, znudzeni dowódcy, marzący o jakiejś wojence, nie mogąc znaleźć ujścia dla swoich nabrzmiałych problemów emocjonalnych organizują musztrę. Czystość guzika, złożona bielizna w kostkę nabierają wagi rangi życia i śmierci, bądź poniżenia lub chwilowego spokoju. Powszechnie króluje hipokryzja i skrywane okrucieństwo. Wykręcenie łapy psu jest psu jest dla mnie jednym z najdrastyczniejszych opisów w książce. Ameryka południowa w drugiej połowie XX wieku kojarzyła się z przewrotami wojskowymi i mniej lub bardziej brutalnymi rządami Junt. W Peru wojskowi przejęli władzę w latach 1968-1980. W książce pobrzmiewają echa wojny z Ekwadorem i niezadowolenie wojskowych z pokojowego rozstrzygnięcia.

Polecam książkę, choć miłośnicy Llosy z pewnością już dawno mają ją za sobą, ale z cała pewnością rosną nowi czytelnicy. Książka aktualna, poruszająca problem skoszarowanych młodych ludzi, po przeczytaniu nadal uważam wojsko jako odrażające doświadczenie – całe szczęście że mnie to ominęło. Polecam

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