1) The Mario Vargas Llosa telling 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?
Mario Vargas Llosa writes the story as if his younger self was as mature as he is now and the tone stays the same throughout the book. He doesn’t seem to condescend or criticise his younger self and makes it seem as if his younger self made decisions the same we he would now. The tone is quite neutral and he doesn’t seem to disagree with anything.
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?
I think the point of this is to show that Pedro Camacho is quite lonely and to make up for this isolation and loneliness he creates his own world, through his stories, where he is in control and it can be whatever he wants it to be. The stories and characters he makes up are his ‘friends’ and company on a daily basis, they are the people who get him through the day and never stop listening, the people who aren’t too busy to be with him.
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?
This novel is talking about how one’s life has so much going on, all at once, to the point where people don’t get a break. It shows how life can take you to different and unexpected places and throw unprecedented things at you. This novel really shows how life is timeless and so are the events that occur during life.