1) Mario Vargas Llosa tells the story is obviously older than the “Marito” who is living it . . . how would you describe the tone? what is the attitude of the narrator to the young man he was?
The narration is done in a non-emotional manner. Mario from the future doesn’t appear to be too concerned about giving his own opinions and it seems more as if the story is a recollection which doesn’t. I would say that his attitude could be described as indifferent.
2) if every other chapter, basically, represents one of Pedro Camacho’s serials — if they didn’t happen, in other words, what is the point of spending so much time on these characters/events/conflicts?
Every other chapter shows the devolution of Pedro Camacho’s writing capabilities. The reader sees the slow transition through which Camacho’s stories slowly lose their zeal; the reader is shown the confusion and inconsistencies between serials. Another noticeable difference is the level of violent crime increases as the chapters continue and this is perhaps a reference to Camacho slowly losing his mind.
3) If a story is basically, “one time, in one place, something happened” then it’s not really literature —it’s journalism or history or maybe even just gossip. Literature is usually thought to express something timeless —something true in a bigger sense. What might this novel be saying about life?
The literature delves into abstract concepts such as love and ethics. The novel perhaps says that love is something where the fine line between right and wrong can sometimes be faded.