Thursday, June 29, 2006

Interview with Mario Vargas Llosa

BEIRUT: In Mario Vargas Llosa's novel "The Feast of the Goat," the aging Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo is driven to fits by an inability to control his bladder. In one tense scene the generalissimo, fearing that he has wet himself at an official banquet, sits stiffly in his chair, silently cursing the incompetence of whoever failed to seat next to him the usual aide who could be counted on to spill a drink in his lap when necessary. After dinner, it seems, somebody is going to be fed to the sharks.

"Well, probably it was not like that, you know," says Vargas Llosa, sitting in a hotel in Downtown Beirut after giving a lecture in the Lebanese capital last week. "Probably the details that are in my book are not exactly the details that were in Trujillo's life. But he had this problem with his bladder, as many old people have ... Not everything that happens in my book happened during the Trujillo regime, but it all could have happened."

This embroidering of history, this coloring of panoramic canvases with human details - incontinence, banal embarrassments, secret desires, petty jealousies - is performed to beautiful effect in the Peruvian writer's major works, notably "The War of the End of the World" (published in English in 1984).

You can find the interview here

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