The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto – Mario Vargas Llosa

The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

New Year’s Day hits me the hardest. Flood gates are opened with gusto of treacherous past mocking my civilized sanctuary. Liquor cabinets once again see the light generating frenzy in my large intestine. Endless boxes of Kleenex are opened in utter delight, warm vegetable broth stream down my esophagus, Tylenol suddenly seems appetizing and the family physician prances like Rudolph as he can now put a down payment on his new condo. So, there it is one of the many traditions of a new dawn. As for resolutions, I can’t keep any. There is one noble idea of writing in a notebook that keeps me occupied for couple days. I write when I am thoroughly depressed or sloshed. Rarely do I pen down my fantasies or lunatic testimonies of an unruly imagination. What would I write down? Let’s see. “I see dead people. Unicorns copulating on purple tapestries. Kim Jong-il crooning to Hula hoop with Alvin &Co. The absence of baculum(penis bone) in humans.” Bollocks! I’m mystified. Wish I knew what to write?

Don Rigoberto sure knows to fill the blank pages of his notebooks. At nightfall his fantasies come alive with numerous pages brimming with pulsating characterizations of Lucrecia’s sex acts. Lucrecia adorns the various roles of a prostitute , a subtle lover, a law professor; erotic scenes of her naked body being licked by several cats, orgies with castrated Corsican motorcyclists ,lesbian encounters with her maid Justiniana or the wife of an Algerian ambassador and many more were crafted in the flowing sheets of Rigoberto’s notebooks. The ludicrousness in his textual delusions for his estranged wife Lucrecia reinforces through every deprived desire to be with her. Rigoberto’s passion for erotic art, sexual reveries of Lucrecia and acute OCD (burns additional art/books to maintain certain numbered collectibles) embraces individual freedom denigrating the racist and ethnic segregations that proliferates under the pretext of patriotism or customary diatribes against sportsmen. A bureaucrat, liberal and a self-proclaimed monogamist, Rigoberto is terribly in love with his wife. Desiring a woman who was found in bed with his cherubic teenage son Alfonso makes him more of a harebrained imbecile than a helpless romantic. I have freaking no idea whatsoever to how a man who terms himself as well thought-of chap can think of reconciling with his wife who bedded her adolescent stepson. Moreover, Llosa further goes on to construe the notion of Alfonso being a catalyst in patching things up between his father and stepmother. Gosh! This book surely cracks me up. What a twisted little fucker Alfonso is! The funniest part of this ambiguous erotica is the boy’s fixation to the 20th century Austrian painter, Egon Schiele. The alter ego, which he relates to the artist’s life and nude portraits living in his own modest fantasies with the apparent of Lucrecia being a model to perform the mock paintings.

Some of Schiele’s illustrations featured in the book.

Self-Portrait

Reclining woman

Schiele Drawing a Model in Front of a Mirror, 1910

What is Llosa trying to say? Is he demarcating individual freedom and moral demeanor? Is incest abortive to overlook its facts and pursue the offender out of sexual irresistibility? What would be the repercussions if reality and fantasies mesh together?Is Rigoberto a good father or a selfish one? This book can be easily pushed forward as an outright erotica. Regrettably it is not. We have a child here who explores the world of sex through his step-parent. A father who is more interested in unification with his adulterous ex-spouse than knowing the whereabouts of his only child. Limits of sexuality seem to disappear in this warped triad termed family. And Rigoberto’s notebooks; the words might seem nontoxic on paper, but isn’t his notion of individual liberty haunting him churning out little erotic quirks. Am I reading way too much into this ambitious canvas of an erotomaniac or perceiving the loopholes of civilized autonomy.

3/5***

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