The structure of Conversation in the Cathedral is somewhat unusual. The vast bulk of the novel is dialogue, and a common occurrence is for different dialogues to be interlaced together at the sentence level, without overt marking, in a kind of counterpoint. As well as this there is a kind of hierarchical layering, with events described in conversations themselves recounted within the meta-conversation that spans the novel. The narrative jumps around in time continually, with significant events happening in the middle of the story chronologically not recounted until near the end of the book. The result of all this is an almost "fractal" narrative.
Despite the complicated structure Vargas Llosa's novel has a very compelling feeling of movement to it (perhaps the "harmony" provides the driving force), and once I got into it I found it completely engrossing. It also presents the clearest picture of how a Latin American military dictatorship actually works that I've ever seen. Conversation in the Cathedral is not only the most enjoyable novel I've read for years, it is also the most impressive.
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