The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

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9780140283594: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto
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Set in Lima, a story of a love triangle introduces Don Rigoberto, a gray insurance executive by day and a pornographer by night, his second wife, Lucrecia, and his son, Alfonso, who has relations with his stepmother. Reprint.

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"It is not the world of cunning cattle that you and I are part of which interests me and brings me joy or suffering, but the myriad of beings animated by imagination, desire and artistic skill, the beings present in the paintings, books, and prints that I have collected with the patience and love of many years."

Near the beginning of The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, the title character writes these words to the architect designing his new home, thus setting the theme for this slightly fantastical, wholly erotic novel that celebrates the ascendancy of imagination over real life. Readers familiar with Vargas Llosa's work will recognize Don Rigoberto from the earlier In Praise of the Stepmother, in which the author first introduced the middle-aged insurance executive, his beautiful second wife, Lucrecia, and his preternaturally sensual son, Alfonsito. In that book, the pubescent "Fonsito" manages to seduce his stepmother and then writes an essay about the experience that he lets his father read. The novel ends with Lucrecia's expulsion from the household and the revelation that Fonsito had orchestrated the whole thing from the beginning for reasons of his own. Now, in The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto Vargas Llosa picks up where he left off, with Alfonsito's reappearance on the doorstep of Lucrecia's new home. Once again, this "Beelzebub, a viper with the face of an angel" has a hidden agenda--this time, apparently, to reunite his father and stepmother.

As in its predecessor, The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto filters erotic passions and desires through art and artifice; Alfonsito uses the life and work of painter Egon Schiele to seduce his stepmother's imagination if not her body; Don Rigoberto and Lucrecia fan the flames of sexual passion through elaborate fantasies that they present as reality. It is almost as if no act, thought, or feeling can be real unless it has first existed in the imagination; even as Rigoberto and Lucrecia make love on their first night back together he informs her that, in his notebooks, she "'has gone to bed with many people all year.' 'I want details,' Dona Lucrecia gasp[s], speaking with difficulty. 'All of them, even the tiniest. What I did, what I ate, what was done to me.'"

The novel is the literary equivalent of matryoshki, those nests of dolls within dolls that Russian toymakers made to enthrall young children. Egon Schiele's life story, Lucrecia's erotic encounters, Rigoberto's notebooks, the 20 anonymous letters that reunite Rigoberto and his wife--all unfold, stories within stories and fantasies within fiction, until Vargas Llosa arrives, at last, at his happy ending, with a twist. The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto is erotic without being graphic, so fantastical that even the seduction of a 40-year-old matron by a pubescent boy reads more like myth (think Cupid and Psyche) than today's headlines. Vargas Llosa's cool, wry prose helps to elevate the hijinks above the merely prurient, making this fable of love, art, and manipulation a pleasure without guilt. --Alix Wilber

About the Author:

Peru's foremost writer, Mario Vargas Llosa is the author of ten novels, including Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The War of the End of the World, Death in the Andes, and The Storyteller. He has also written the memoir A Fish in the Water, three plays, and several volumes of literary essays. In 1995 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize and the Cervantes Prize. In 1998 he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Making Waves.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780374223274: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0374223270 ISBN 13:  9780374223274
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1998
Hardcover

9780571195756: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

Faber ..., 1999
Softcover

9780571193097: Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

Faber ..., 1998
Hardcover

9780374961213: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

Farrar..., 1998
Softcover

9780965594912: Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

Farrar..., 1997
Softcover

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