The more I find out about Mario Vargas Llosa, the more impressed I am. NPR's Zoe Chace filed this on him.
Mario Vargas Llosa wrote poems when he was young. His father famously responded by sending the boy to military school-- where he spent two ghastly years, gathering inspiration for his first novel-- La Ciudad y Los Perros, published in English as The Time of the Hero. The military burned a thousand copies of the book and Vargas Llosa's infamy was secured.
He's been a public intellectual ever since. Politically, Vargas Llosa was all over the map-- though he supported the Cuban revolution in the sixities, he found himself running for president in 1990-- as a leader of a coalition opposed to Peru's plan to nationalize the banking system. Back then, his opponents tried to use his works to defame the would-be president.
If it turns out this guy is a professional race car driver in his spare time, my masculinity will diminish even further. [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]