Books: Life, Liberty and Lustiness

Father burns books. Stepmother and son burn for each other. But relax. It adds up to good fun

Mario Vargas Llosa the politician ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of Peru in 1990 as a fiscal conservative. Happily, Vargas Llosa the winning novelist remains a staunch romantic libertarian. The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 260 pages; $23) is, like his delectable Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977; translated into English in 1982), a roguish and sophisticated sex comedy with a few brain teasers tipped in.

At the heart of both books is a deep appreciation of individual liberty, a strong disdain for convention and a young man's infatuation with an interested older woman. Vargas Llosa forged his...

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