Carrie's Staff Picks
It’s hard to open the novels of a living Nobel and Cervantes Prize winner without a moment of mental genuflection before Literature with a capital L. In bestowing its award, the Swedish Academy cited Mario Vargas Llosa’s “cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”—quite a load to carry. But Vargas Llosa’s writing does not lend itself to ivory tower contemplation of cartographies of structures. It is immediate, colloquial, even sexy, and the source of the most vivid dreams I’ve had in years. You tumble rather than tiptoe into the Peruvian’s world.
The Discreet Hero is a fine entertainment. But does it move us? Does it alter our perceptions of the world? Is it literature? Readers are divided, and the author himself is cagey about his intentions. All I can say is that halfway through the novel, I was interested enough in the answers to these questions to carry the hardcover on a four day backpacking trip. A book that can engage us in the fundamental questions—make us bear in some way the weight of culture—is always welcome.
(see Carrie's full review here)