Los cuadernos de Don Rigoberto

Los cuadernos de Don Rigoberto - Mario Vargas Llosa I wanted to like this book a lot more, but in the end I was only lukewarm at best about it. I have some mixed feelings about it, and I hope I can convey that as I write this note. On the one hand, Vargas Llosa is indeed a master writer who can craft a sentence. The erotic and love scenes in the novel are simply beautifully described. The language and imagery are great. The use of literary and artistic references is also very good, and I tend to like books that make use of references and allusions as this book does. I tend to like reading erotica (and some porn as well), so you would think this book would have been perfect given the positive attributes I have described so far. So, what was the problem? The problem was that the passages in between the nice stuff were boring and dry as hell. And to be perfectly honest, I found the character of Fonchito, Don Rigoberto's son, to be annoying and irritating. I just wanted to smack the kid and tell him to get lost. Mind you, the taboo angle did not bother me. For those not in the know, the basic plot of the novel is that Don Rigoberto and Lucrecia got separated after she had an affair/liaison with the precocious Fonchito. Fonchito is Lucrecia's stepson. Rigoberto still misses Lucrecia dearly, so he writes to her and about her in his notebooks, which make quite an exploration of sensuality in various facets. Ok, that all I can handle just fine, and I would think it would make a good tale. Problem was that, aside from the sensual parts, the rest of the novel was, well, pretty boring and the reading experience was pretty slow. A pity because, as I said, this book does have things to like. As a final note, keep in mind this book is a sequel to the novel Elogio de la madrastra (available in translation as In Praise of the Stepmother ). I have not read the previous novel, and I don't think you have to have read it to appreciate this one. However, those who have read it may likely get more out of this novel. My mother used to say that even great writers put out a dud once in a while. I am taking this as just being a novel that was so-so. If you want to truly sample Vargas Llosa, especially now that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he has much better works (some of which I have read). This is more for those fans of the author that want to say they have read it all. Who knows, I may give it a second chance down the road, or skim the passages I like (some of those make for good bedtime reading), but not anytime soon.