Dangerous Obsession

From The New York Times:

Cover395 Once upon a time, in a novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, there was a good boy who fell in love with a bad girl. He treated her with tenderness; she repaid him with cruelty. The bad girl mocked the good boy’s devotion, criticized his lack of ambition, exploited his generosity when it was useful to her and abandoned him when it was not. No matter how often the bad girl betrayed the good boy, he welcomed her back, and thus she forsook him many times. So it went until one of them died.

Do you recognize the story? It’s been told before, by Gustave Flaubert , whose Emma Bovary has fascinated Vargas Llosa nearly all his writing life, from his first reading of “Madame Bovary” in 1959, when he had just moved to Paris at the age of 23. In 1986, “The Perpetual Orgy” was published, and it’s as much a declaration of Vargas Llosa’s love for Emma as a work of literary criticism. Now, in his most recent book, a splendid, suspenseful and irresistible novel, he takes possession of the plot of “Madame Bovary” just as thoroughly and mystically as its heroine continues to possess him. Translated by Edith Grossman with the fluid artistry readers have come to expect from her renditions of Latin American fiction, “The Bad Girl” is one of those rare literary events: a remaking rather than a recycling.

More here.