I read "The Bad Girl" by Mario Vargas Llosa for a new book group. What a textured piece - on friendship, on beauty, on aesthetics -- a story told via sex and submission and being dashed time after time by one single very bad girl! The crazy, lewd debauchery, over the top - is this real? Such a closely depicted life story, must be a morality tale - so how do we avoid the relinquishment of self and sanity in our own lives? And in the lives of, particularly, our boys?
In fact, this novel is inside out... it's reality-based fiction alright, but about the secondary characters. They are rational and sane and have the kind of command over themselves we recognize - they command power over reality in a way that the primary character, our Ricardito, he who is enslaved to a woman who hates him, cannot manage.
And it's a travelogue!
Most exquisite about this book written by a Peruvian master of literature is the insider portrait it paints of - Paris! "The Bad Girl" is a guide for my favorite city - the exhibits were real, the glitterati make cameos, the restaurateurs (some of whom I've known myself, like Jean Pierre Court of the unparalelled 7e bistro Auberge d'Chez Eux where I have basked in just the meal Ricardo and Soloman ate, down to the detail, probably with some of you!) -- the walks in the Tuileries. They taunt the reader - like :"hey you think this book isn't a real life tale?" Vargas Llosa's Paris is as immediate as if we were there this afternoon, so how can the life story of Ricardo NOT be real as a result? This is what I mean, it's inside out. Everything auxiliary is as plain as day, from the restaurants and cafes to the perfect, messy, real people Ricardo has propping him up. These are what defines Ricardo, not the woman who abuses him, manipulates him, lies to him, crazes him.
I finished The Bad Girl yesterday afternoon at 4:00 -- as one does when thoroughly taken with a novel, she reads while her kids are stationed screenside. The first place I went to find myself was the Errant Aesthete, which as its main concern brings hedonism (Paris) home. I can count on my errant blogger friend to walk me through coming back to earth after this fantastic read. Here's what the Aesthete leads off with, a quote from Plato:
"Everything that deceives can be said to enchant."
Perfect, the Errant Aesthete's salon, Crazy in Love -- here I have my conversation about "The Bad Girl".