THE CUBS AND OTHER STORIES
Catching up on some earlier Vargas Llosa. The title novella recounts the adolescence and, later, the self-destructive young adulthood of "P.P." Cuellar, who as a boy was attacked by a Great Dane in the locker room of his Catholic boys' school and partially castrated (". . . the shits, the my Gods, the get outs, the screams, the get losts, the get goings, the brothers' desperation, their terrible fright"). Though handsome, he obviously keeps himself distant from girls, compensating by being ever wilder and daring and foolish and turned-in to himself. As a tale it's only so-so, interesting chiefly for its cascading, breathless style. The six short stories that fill up the rest of the book mostly concern a barrio--gang--of upper-class young Lima, Peru, students: fights, contests, a school rebel-lion (possibly a preliminary sketch for Vargas Llosa's first novel, The Time of the Hero). Nicely rendered into English--no easy task in "The Cubs"--this early work is open and airy, graceful but hardly compelling.