THE GREATEST BLURB EVER WRITTEN,
or WHY THERE ARE SO MANY BALD PEOPLE
“Anyone who doesn’t read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who has never tasted peaches. He would quietly become sadder…and probably, little by little, he would lose his hair. I don’t want these things to happen to me, so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar.”
The great Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar has already been introduced here once before, focusing on his exceptional collection Blow-Up and Other Stories. Check out that post for more general details and links about his life.
A NEWLY DISCOVERED INTERVIEW
The idea here is to delve a bit deeper into his work. There are surprisingly few interviews with Julio Cortázar on the web. In the course of some research, I stumbled across a remarkable in-depth profile of him in the book Into the Mainstream: Conversations with Latin American Writers by Luis Harss and Barbara Dohmann. The book was published in 1967 and is long out-of-print, so I thought I’d share some of the most revealing sections of this extensive interview.
SOME OPENING REMARKS
The Slow Starter
“I was very doubtful about having a book published. In that sense I think I was always very clear-sighted. I watched myself develop and I didn’t force things. I knew that at a certain moment what I was writing was worth quite a bit more than what was being written by other people of my age in Argentina. But, because of the high idea I have of literature, I thought it was stupid to publish just anything as people in Argentina used to do in those days. So I held my fire.” – Julio Cortázar
Avoiding the Plateau
“In everything I’d written I’d been satisfied with inventing pure fantasies. The mere fact of imagining a fantastic situation that resolved itself in a way that was aesthetically satisfactory was enough for me. But I reached a point where I felt I had to deal with something that was a lot closer to me. Fantasy for its own sake had stopped interesting me. By then I was fully aware of the dangerous perfection of the storyteller who reaches a certain level of achievement and stays on that level forever. I was a bit sick of seeing how well my stories turned out. I wanted to stop inventing and stand on my own ground, to look at myself for a bit.” — JC
A Manifesto, of sorts
“I like marginal situations of all kinds. I prefer back alleyways to main thoroughfares. I detest classic itineraries – at every level. These days the great classics, as we might call them, interest me a lot less because I find myself more or less at odds with them. Nobody can deny their remarkable achievements, but they’re entirely circumscribed within the mainstream of Western tradition. What interests me more and more is what I would call the literature of exception. A good page of Alfred Jarry stimulates me much more than the complete works of La Bruyere. This isn’t an absolute judgment. But I agree with Jarry’s great pataphysical principle: ‘The most interesting things are not laws but exceptions.’ The poet must devote himself to hunting for the exceptions and leave the laws to the scientists and other serious writers. Exceptions offer what I call an opening or a fracture, and also, in a sense, a hope.” — JC
A SELECTIVE OVERVIEW OF HIS WORK
1) The Short Stories
Blow-Up and Other Stories
All Fires the Fire
Cortázar wrote short stories throughout his career and they’re one of the cornerstones of his work. These two early collections combine stories from various books and comprise his best work in the genre. Which is to say, pieces like “Bestiary,” “End of the Game,” “The Gates of Heaven,” “The Pursuer,” “The Southern Thruway,” and “Instructions for John Howell” are among the very best short fiction ever written.
We Love Glenda So Much
A Change of Light
These two later collections offer a grab bag of narrative approaches. They’re written in a sparer prose and a bit less successful overall. Still plenty of gems, including “Orientation of Cats,” “Story with Spiders,” and “A Change of Light.”
His last collection, often overlooked even by fans, finds Cortázar returning to the fantastical mode that made him famous. “A Leg of the Journey” is one of his masterpieces, both haunting and inscrutable. “Nightmares” and “The School At Night” combine horror and politics in subtle ways.
“The truth is that though these stories may seem like games, while I was writing them I didn’t think of them that way at all. They were glimpses, dimensions, or hints of possibilities that terrified or fascinated me and that I had to exhaust by working them off in a story.” – JC
“The style does not seem careful, but each word has been chosen. No one can retell the plot of a Cortázar story; each one consists of determined words in a determined order. If we try to summarize them, we realize something precious has been lost.” –– Jorge Luis Borges
2) The Not-Quite Short Stories
Cronopios and Famas
A one-of-a-kind whatsit that’s his most whimsical and overtly experimental book.
“Contents include: Instructions for mounting a staircase, for winding a clock; a sketch about a man who loses his head and learns to detect sounds, smells, and colors with his sense of touch; a section called `Strange Occupations’ which works its effects under the skin, on raw nerve ends. In Cronopios, corpses grow nails, the bald drop their wigs. The author is constantly emptying his pockets under the table.” – Into the Mainstream
3) The Great Novel
Widely acknowledged as a classic, Hopscotch has been called the Ulysses of Latin American literature. The novel that can be read in several different ways, allowing the reader to decide their path as they hopscotch throughout the book’s many chapters. It’s challenging, great fun, and often funny.
“In Hopscotch, jokes, gags, are not only dramatic elements but stitches in the narrative fabric. Whole scenes are built on them. Cortázar is a great improviser. His humor can be harsh, hectic, grotesque, ironic, jeering. He is a master of parody, jabberwocky, wordplay, non sequitur, obscenity, even cliché, which he exploits with predatory relish. Farce alternates with fantasy, slang with erudition. Puns, hyperbole, innuendo, sudden shifts and dislocations, all the resources of comic art, including virtuoso nonsense passages, are to work with inexhaustible versatility.” – Into the Mainstream
“I detest solemn searches. What I like above all about the masters of Zen is their complete lack of solemnity. The deepest insights sometimes emerge from a joke, a gag, or a slap in the face. In Hopscotch, there’s a great influence of that attitude, I might even say of that technique.” – JC
4) The Controversial Novel
A Manual for Manuel
Starting in the 1960s, Cortázar became increasingly involved in leftist political causes. This continued throughout his life, including drawing attention to the atrocities committed in Central America during the 1970s and 80s. A Manual for Manuel is his overtly political novel, which won the prestigious Prix Medicis but was widely dismissed by American critics as agit prop. In fact, Cortázar had bolded expanded the possibilities of the political novel, collaging in elements of pure fantasy and factual news accounts. The result was similar to how Jean-Luc Godard reimagined political filmmaking with Weekend.
“A liberating book which presents a heroic notion of revolution difficult to realize. There will be room in it for Andy Warhol, aleatory music, Rimbaud, Joni Mitchell, and magic.” – Times Literary Supplement
“One of the most urgent Latin American problems is that we need more than ever the Che Guevaras of the language, revolutionaries of literature rather than literati of revolution.” – JC
5) The Hybrid Books
Autonauts of the Cosmoroute
From the Observatory
Around the Day in Eighty Worlds
These books are charming mash-ups of essay, fiction, nonfiction, photographs, and illustrations. The wide-ranging and intermingled subjects include Marcel Duchamp, Indian astronomical observatories, the life cycle of eels, broken dolls, a month-long pilgrimage with his wife along the Parisian freeway system, and much more.
“The photos are placed intentionally so that the reader may complete the selection with a visual image. The idea of collage fascinates me. If I had technical means to print my own books, I believe I would keep on making collage-books.” -JC
JULIO CORTAZAR’S GREAT ANTI-NOVEL
The pinnacle of his work, 62: A Model Kit is Cortazar’s most underappreciated novel. It takes its title from Chapter 62 of Hopscotch, where the writer Morelli shares some notes about the ideal book he’d someday like to write:
If I were to write this book, standard behavior would be inexplicable by means of current instrumental psychology. The actors would appear to be unhealthy or complete idiots. Not that they would show themselves incapable of current challenges and responses: love, jealousy, pity, and so on down the line, but in them something which Homo sapiens keeps subliminal would laboriously open up a road as if a third eye were blinking out with effort from under the frontal bone. Everything would be a kind of disquiet, a continuous uprooting, a territory where psychological causality would yield disconcertedly, and those puppets would destroy each other or love each other or recognize each other without suspecting too much that life is trying to change its key in and through and by them.
This connection has led many readers and literary critics to assume the novel is a mere technical exercise or an appendage to its predecessor. Critic Michael Hardin asserts: “62: A Model Kit becomes an extension of Hopscotch, yet another chapter which must be read and incorporated.”
This is bullshit. 62 not only stands as its own work, it’s Cortázar’s most ambitious, accomplished, and fully realized novel. He manages to devise his own counterlanguage and rewire the concepts of plot, setting, and characterization. It’s a staggering achievement with little precedent. The closest analog might not be in literature, but Jacques Rivette’s wild films of the 1970s like Duelle and Noirot.
The continual dislocations of time and space (not to mention the vampire subplot!) lend the novel’s realist situations a vertiginous sense of the fantastic. The point of view keeps shifting from character to character, slowly emphasizing a collective web of relationships over any one personality. The book is full of peculiar juxtapositions, tonal registers, and emotional hues. It can be tough going in the beginning while you’re getting the hang of it, but the novel’s style soon becomes intoxicating as you begin to see how the various intertwined and overlapping stories are hurtling toward their climaxes.
CORTAZAR TALKS ABOUT 62
The interview for Into the Mainstream was conducted while Cortázar was in the midst of writing 62: A Model Kit. Many of his comments refer either directly or obliquely to this difficult project. They offer the best insights I’ve found to this remarkable book:
“There’s a terrible paradox in being a writer, a man of words, and fighting against words. It’s a kind of suicide. But I want to stress that I don’t fight against words as a whole or in essence. I fight against a certain usage, a language that I think has been falsified, debased, made to serve ignoble ends. Of course I have to fight by means of the words themselves.
“That’s why Hopscotch, from a stylistic point of view, is very badly written. There’s even a part (chapter 75) where the language starts to become very elegant. Oliveira remembers his past life in Buenos Aires and does so in polished and highly chiseled language. It’s an episode that’s written fussing over every word until, after about half a page, suddenly Oliveira breaks out laughing. He’s really been watching himself all the time in the mirror. So then he takes his shaving cream and starts to draw lines and shapes on the mirror, making fun of himself. I think that scene fairly well sums up what the book is trying to do.
“The book I want to write now, which I hope I can write because it’s going to be much more difficult than Hopscotch, will carry this to its final consequences. It will be a book that will probably have very few readers because the ordinary bridges of language that the reader logically expects will have been reduced to a minimum. In Hopscotch there are many bridges left. In that sense, Hopscotch is a hybrid product, a first attack.”
ARCHITECTURE OF THE ANTI-NOVEL
“I’m going to try to create my own language. The ideal would be to arrive at a language that would reject all the crutches (not only the obvious ones but the others, the ones under cover) and trappings of what is so cheerfully referred to as a literary style. The concept of ‘figures’ will be of use to me instrumentally, because it provides me with a focus very different from the usual ones in a novel that tends to individualize the characters and equip them with personal traits and psychologies.
“I’d like to write in such a way that my writing would be full of life in the deepest sense, full of action and meaning, but a life, action, and meaning that would no longer rely exclusively on the interaction of individuals, but rather on a sort of superaction involving the ‘figures’ formed by a constellation of characters. I realize it isn’t easy at all to explain this.
“I feel daily I’m less of an egoist and more aware of the constant interactions taking place between other things or beings and myself. I have an impression that all that moves on a plane responding to other laws, other structures that lie outside the world of individuality. I would like the book to show how these figures constitute a sort of break with, or denial of, individual reality, sometimes completely unknown to the characters themselves. One of the many problems with this scheme, a problem already hinted at in Hopscotch, is to know up to what point a character can serve a purpose that is fulfilling itself outside of him, without being the least aware of it, without his realizing that he is one of the links in that superaction or superstructure?”
WIPING THE SLATE
“When all is said and done, I feel very much alone and I think that’s as it should be. In other words, I don’t rely on western tradition alone as a valid passport and culturally I’m also totally disconnected from eastern tradition. The truth is, each day I lose more confidence in myself, and I’m happy. I write worse and worse, from an aesthetic point of view. I’m glad, because I think I’m approaching the point where perhaps I’ll be able to start writing as I think one ought to write in our time. It may seem a kind of suicide, in a sense, but it’s better to be a suicide than a zombie. It may be absurd for a writer to be insist on discarding his work instruments. But I think those instruments are false. I want to wipe my slate clean, start from scratch.”
p.s. Hey. A couple of people recently asked me to restore Jeff Jackson’s excellent overview post about the great Julio Cortazar, and there it is. Enjoy and comment thereby, please. And thank you a lot, Jeff, for helping to facilitate its rebirth. ** Armando, Hi, man. I’m good, thanks. I’m up to getting back to work re: finishing Zac’s and my film among a few other things. My plans for today are to start working with Zac to upload and correctly position the English subtitles for our film. Excellent about the happy-making and inspiring Kubrick mini-retro. Congratulations on now having that action figure in your hands. I haven’t seen any of those films you’ve recently seen. I’m way behind, and I very sadly missed ‘Song to Song’s’ brief visit to Paris theaters due to its timing with film editing. ‘Starship Troopers’ was okay and fun, as I remember. I’m not a massive Verhoeven fan, but, yeah, it seemed all right. Thank you for the disaster movie recommendations. I’ve seen the first two but not ‘End Day’. I’m not sure I’ve even heard if it before. Cool. I’ll watch it by whatever means. Sure, you can email me, but know I am eternally terrible at answering my emails even when I’m not busy, like now so do, if you like, and I’ll try my best to be on top of that. Best of everything to you! ** Jamie, Yah, Jamie. Thanks for talking nicely to Jessica. The meeting went as well as could be. I’m not 100% sure it’s okay to talk about it yet, and I need to check about that, and I will. Okay, I think between Zac and myself, you will be as gently cajoled towards a coaster as a cajoling could manifest, and then your decision will be respected, albeit not perhaps without a few last pokes if it’s a ‘no’. You went to see Eileen! Gosh, I would have asked you to say hi for me if that created an opportunity for you to say hi to her yourself if you wanted to. So how was that? Zac and I are supposed to restart movie stuff today. If so, that will be most of my Thursday. Well, you’ll need to give some general hints about the birthday present, like in what mediums or areas of interest or stuff like that are you interested in shopping? And I will, of course, gladly point, etc. as needed. Dandy pretty much describes the world in my immediate vicinity today. Yours too, and even much more dandified. Yesterday the military blocked off my street for two hours because of a ‘suspicious package’ containing, perhaps, love. From me. ** Steve Erickson, Okay, hm, I can’t see any reason why, if you use the same actor, location, camera, and lighting set up, it would be at all difficult to integrate the new footage with the old. That makes no sense. Did you find a PA? Godflesh is one of those bands/projects that I did my very best to get into — bought a few albums, saw them/him live twice — and just never ever could. Which, it goes without saying, is clearly my weakness. I do love Big Black and ‘TRMET’, of course, because I’m not that weak. ** David Ehrenstein, I hope the KLF return isn’t the bad idea that it seems like it could so easily be. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Thanks a bunch for the Jessica-related wordage and share. ** Jeff Coleman, Hey, Jeff, really nice to see you, man! New Nulick! Thank you a lot for that alert. Everyone, James Nulick, wonderful writer/novelist, longtime regular visitor of this place, and sharer of many lovely guest-posts, has put a piece of his novel-in-progress up at Fluland, and it is a guaranteed great read. So read it. Which is easy-peasy. ** Misanthrope, Thank you on behalf of Jessica who I am fairly certain didn’t take offense. The ‘comments’ glitch thing is annoying for sure. I just don’t know what’s up re: that. And that problem hasn’t been reported by others except for Wolf’s initial thing, so I’ll wait and see? A summer cold, much less summer bronchitis, has to be the worst kind of cold, and maybe the worst kind of bronchitis, but I’m not totally sure about that bronchitis claim. And I suppose the ‘worst’ aspect is a psychological thing. I’m rambling. I don’t know, I don’t have any problem with people who seek a romanticized, idealized version of fame and only realize too late that the real thing has a serious Medusa aspect and then complain about the downsides. I guess I blame blame capitalism and the hierarchy it hard-sells to people who think fame is an ultimate way to succeed in the world they live in. Or something. ** Right. Please get as heavily involved in Jeff and Julio as you can today. See you tomorrow.
Great post today, of course. Thank you. Always loved the great Cortázar. Not one of my favorite writers, but definitely I’ve always loved him. It’s very curious and funny how little ‘Blow-Up’ kept of the 16-page Cortázar story it’s based on: ‘Las Babas Del Diablo’ (‘The Devil’s Drools’ in English). Just a photographer that unknowingly takes an incriminating photograph in a park and a woman; who’s a participant in the “act”; attacking him and trying to take the camera/film away from him and then said photographer returning to his studio and making a blow up of said photograph and becoming startled. That’s all that was kept from the story in the movie. Everything else is Antonioni’s and Guerra’s invention. In the story, the thing the protagonist captured was said woman trying to kidnap a young teenage boy for him to be raped (and maybe even worse) by a man waiting inside a car a few yards away or possibly by both the man and the woman. The whole story’s narrated in the first person in flashback by the protagonist from someplace that’s not the world; as he dies; possibly from the shock, possibly by way or murder, possibly by way of suicide… It’s also very funny; both my parents read the story and didn’t understand a thing *AT ALL*… ROFLMFAO!!!… There’s a Cortázar story I’d LOVE to adapt into film some day…
Oh, cool; I hope the process of adding the subtitles to the movie is as swift and uncomplicated as possible. The best of luck to you my dear, dear friend and Zac! Cheers.
“Congratulations on now having that action figure in your hands.” Thanks so much! I *FUCKING LOVE* it.
This week’s the turn of the immensely misunderstood and demonized ‘A Clockwork Orange’!!! How fucking swell it’d be to see it while sipping some “MILK+” (while also drinking my BELOVED COCA-COLA, *OF COURSE*), lol… Speaking of this Masterpiece, I’m reminded of what a useless, worthless, idiotic cunt that pauline kael thing was. Wost pseudo-“film critic” *EVER*. Have you ever read her “review”/”critique”/whatever the fuck of this Masterpiece? By far one of the most imbecilic things I’ve *EVER* read…
Oh, yeah, it’s so sad and unfortunate you missed the theatrical run of ‘STS’. But, well, once it hits home video over there (in fact, it may already has?), you’ll have the chance to witness such a magnificent, gorgeous, ravishing Masterpiece. I can’t describe the immense pleasure it is to see both the Great Iggy Pop and the Great Patti Smith (bows) themselves (with dialogues and all!!!) in a Malick film… That’s just… Fucking out of this motherfucking world…
Yeah, I guess no one’s really a Paul Verhoeven fan, LOL… Most of the time I just find him (and/or the movies he directs) mediocre, boring, inept, overly and embarrassingly melodramatic, puerile, unsophisticated, etc, etc. Like he’s had an extreme, mind-and-life-controlling obsession with ‘The Night Porter’ (and maybe even ‘The Damned’ as well) (AAAND nazism, for that matter), and throughout all of his life has always tried to imitate and “surpass” that(/those) great film(s) with absolutely not a single milligram of success *WHATSOEVER*, OBVIOUSLY. Just my two cents. LOL. *Shrugs*.
Speaking of ‘The Night Porter’ and ‘The Damned’; it’s never a bad time to say how much I adore and love Ms. Charlotte Rampling. What a Human Being… Ever since I saw her in Woody’s ‘Stardust Memories’ at 13 I was absolutely transfixed. And few actresses have ever looked as absolutely gorgeous as she looks in both ‘The Damned’ and ‘The Night Porter’.
Oh, you must must must see ‘End Day’. It’s indeed very, very, very hard to physically get. I myself have it in the form of a Korean DVD. But, you can download it relatively easily if you just don’t find it in physical form or whatever.
“Sure, you can email me, but know I am eternally terrible at answering my emails even when I’m not busy, like now” By, again, like I said, it’d take so little of your time. And, I don’t have your email address, actually.
I did something very crazy. I took a Sunn O))) track (‘Black Wedding’) and changed its pitch lowering 24 semitones and slowing it down to double its length. It’s so crazy; I get literally physically sick if I listen to it (even just fragments; as I’ve done every time so far) through speakers at maximum volume, hahaha.
Anyway, I’ll shut the fuck up now.
Have a good day,
I especially love Charlotte Rampling in Oshima’s “Max Mon Amour” and Chereau’s “Flesh of the Orchid.”
In Cortazar’s original story what the photographer inadvertently captures is a gay pick-up. Antonioni’s film turned it into a straight murder.
Well, after those two movies I mentioned, the ones in which I love Ms. Rampling the most that spring to mind right now are ‘Stardust Memories’, ‘Melancholia’ and ‘Under The Sand’.
No. As I said: “In the story, the thing the protagonist captured was said woman trying to kidnap a young teenage boy for him to be raped (and maybe even worse) by a man waiting inside a car a few yards away or possibly by both the man and the woman.” That’s why it is *the woman* who attacks and tries to steal and destroy the camera/film, and that’s why the boy is trying to resist the woman and looking scared and nervous. And, certainly, the photographer wouldn’t be shocked and horrified and entering a psychotic break and then finally dying (from the shock or from suicide or from murder, we never know), had he realized he inadvertently captured a “gay pick-up” instead of an attempt at kidnap/rape/possibly murder from two pederastic rapists against a teen boy. In its original language, Spanish, it is very, very clear that that’s what the protagonist captured. Unless, of course, that’s what you call a “gay pick-up”.
Thanks, Armando. Glad you enjoyed the post! And yes, an actual adaptation of the Cortazar story would be interesting.
I don’t understand why the cinematographer thinks it will be so hard to match old and new footage either, but she is very insistent on this point and that it would be a much better idea to shoot the whole film over again. If she wants to do this, I really wish she were willing to put herself on the line and cut class so we have more time to do it. I did hire a P.A. literally half an hour ago. He’s a guy from Singapore who had much more experience on his resume than any of the other 7 people who replied to my ad. He has worked in the film industries both in Singapore and the UK. He emigrated to the US to marry an American woman, but he doesn’t have a green card yet or a visa that allows him to work here yet so he’s willing to do unpaid labor at the moment. We hashed out the details of him traveling from Hoboken to the set, and my covering the $11 transportation costs entailed in this. I need to send him a longer E-mail today explaining some of the exact things he needs to, and I E-mailed the cinematographer asking if she has any specific suggestions for what he will have to do.
I’m surprised you don’t like Godflesh.
I know you don’t like Verhoeven, but as far as I can tell, the interview I conducted with him last fall for Fandor is my most widely read interview ever. I can tell this because I discovered 5 articles that plagiarized it. I don’t think it’s that great an interview -I talked to him in the middle of a 6-hour stretch where he was conducting interviews, he was jet lagged and it showed, and he told me that after all these interviews were done, he still had to head down to the New York Film Festival to do a Q&A after a screening of ELLE – but every one of those articles stole the exact same passage, where he said something about how the PG-13 rating has ruined American cinema.
Cortazar is great, and this day really wants to make me explore him further. When I was in college, I was very excited to discover that the Boston University library owned a copy of A MANUAL FOR MANUEL.
One note on new music: Lil B’s new mixtape BLACK KEN is pretty awesome – and I’ve never been a huge fan of him in the past. He produced it himself, and it features the best beats he’s ever rapped over, with some excellent evocation of old school hip-hop. The only problem is that the lyrics mix some intelligent stuff – on one song, he says he’s out to prevent people from killing themselves – with an awful lot of gross sexism. If I listened to this on my iPod on the subway, I would be very glad the other passengers couldn’t hear most of the lyrics.
I for sure need to read more Cortazar! Jeff thanks for the blog today. It’s super fascinating. It’s interesting to compare him with Boris Vian because they do share a sensibility – and I know Cortazar is a huge fan of Vian’s work. For those on the blog that don’t know Boris Vian, read my TamTam Books novels by this great writer! That’s the self-advertisement part of this post – sorry! I recently read Cortazar’s Fantomas graphic novel, that was recently published by Semiotext(e) and I think its great. Fantomas fighting against Capitalists! One is there not to like about this book. I read his travel journal (?) about the road trip with his wife in France and found that charming. And I read the lectures he gave at UCLA that was just published by New Directions. He’s an easy author to have an obsession on. I think I’m ready to jump into that pool. Thanks again Jeff.
Dennis, I never told you this, but I have had anger toward a certain movie theater in Los Angeles for not getting back to you on your film, sometime a year or two years ago now. That theater is now having a VERY difficult time. Ok, that’s the gossip side of me. Ciao, Tosh
I think everyone who reads film news sites or comes near Film Twitter knows exactly what you’re talking about.
Thanks Tosh! Cortazar goes into his love of Boris Vian in depth in the recent ‘Literature Class’ book from New Directions. You can definitely feel his influence in books like Hopscotch and 62: A Model Kit, among others.
Dennis! YESS!! Thank you so much! And thank you Jeff Jackson for re-sending the pics and birthing this brilliant day in the first place!!
Julio: what a dude. Just look at him: is he not the ultimate dude? Is that not the face of someone who knows how to word?
My favorite story has always been ‘House taken over’. I never really understood why translate ‘casa tomada’ as ‘taken over’ rather than ‘taken’; ‘tomada’ is so clean and simple, and has the connotation of something taken from you which ‘taken over’ does not. It’s only after trying to translate him that I realized how particular Cortázar’s writing is. It’s true what Borges says (of course it is). So deceptively simple.
Anyway, there is a lovely write-up on that story here, along with some beautiful illustrations form the Spanish version. It is a very short piece, a few pages maybe. Highly recommended to anyone wanting 10 minutes of The Great Uncanny in action!
Thanks Wolf! Glad you dug the post and thanks for linking to that write-up.
Hey Jeff Jackson, thanks for this most excellent post. I’m completely hooked and looking to purchase some Cortazar asap. Can you recommend a good place to start? Some fine covers on display up there too, esp the Cronopios and Famas
one. Really really cool day.
Did the military really block off your street because of a suspicious package or was that you just coming up with the finest yet, entirely unbeatable ‘adjective’ to go before ‘love’? If the latter then you should be extremely extremely pleased. I spluttered and lolled.
How was your Thursday? Have you been doing PGL stuff? M y day’s been entirely unremarkable, but not in any way bad.
Eileen Myles was so so amazing. I’m so glad we went to see her. I wish I had mentioned that we were going sooner, but it kind of snuck up on me. She read some new and old poems, spoke about her work, answered some questions and charmed the whole room. I like and agreed with everything she said pretty much. Hannah and I are pretty smitten. I also saw Karl Ove Knausgaard, who I was not looking forward to and really enjoyed him too. He read a piece about toilet bowls that was pretty great.
Sorry my ‘shops in Paris’ query was a bit vague, eh? I’m thinking perfume, clothes, books. I’m going to make a voucher entitling the bearer to x amount of shopping in Paris. Thanks in advance for any tips you might have.
I hope Friday treats you like a long lost and sorely missed nephew.
I don’t know how to top what you wrote yesterday love,
If you haven’t read any Cortázar and want a book to start with, I’d humbly (and highly) recommend his story collection ‘Bestiario’ (‘Bestiary’ in English). I think it’s hard to find in English nowadays (at least in physical form; I wouldn’t know about digital), but six of the eight stories were included in an English-language compilation titled ‘End Of The Game And Other Stories’ (and I’m sure in others as well).
Here’s a link to one of the two stories that weren’t included in ‘End Of The Game And Other Stories’: https://www.tor.com/2014/09/03/headache/
Have a good night,
Glad you enjoyed the day! Seconding Armando, those early stories are a great place to start. You can find them in ‘Blow-Up and Other Stories’ in the US edition. It’s a compilation of three of his story collections and amazing top to bottom.
‘Cronopios and Famas’ is another great place to start. It’s very short and playful.
i just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the great Cortazar day !! i found that scrolling through those book covers was a very motivating and pleasant way to start my day. and thanks so much for transcribing the interview, ur doing god’s work
hey dennis !!
there’s a big hurricane coming through, so if i don’t comment or anything this weekend, it’s cuz the power’s out. i’m not worried because i don’t live in a flood area and it looks like the storm is gonna hit further south, but the last time a storm this size came through was Hurricane Ike about 10 years ago, and that knocked out the power to most of the city for close to a week. (it was cool to see the stars in the middle of the city and everything else pitch black, very surreal)
anyway i’ll be fine and i don’t expect the power to go out, but u never can tell with weather. i’m reading king lear right now, maybe i’ll go outside and shout at the thunder when it arrives
i hope ur having a good morning !! and i hope yr meeting went well
take care !!
Dennis, Yeah, I was hoping Ms. Montpas would see that I was being complimentary in my own weird way.
The ghosting comment thing is weird, and I’m not sure why it’s doing that at all. What is this, wordpress? Tumblr? It could be something there. It might be on my end, though I have no problems anywhere else on the web…and didn’t here until this past weekend. Like I said, it’s no biggie. I can still see the posts and post a comment and eventually see others’ comments.
Oh, no, I’m with the people who want or think they want fame and then realize it’s not what they wanted once they get it. It’s more the people who say they never wanted it. I just find that a bit disingenuous. “I didn’t want all this fame. I just wanted to make music.” Okay, sit in your basement and make music. Don’t shop your stuff around like it’s on fire.
But at the end of the day, I don’t think I care too much about that.
We have a mutual friend -Insidetheroar- who is a brilliant poet. You’ll never see his stuff. He writes it and locks it away. He just wants to write and that’s that. He told me he’s gonna burn it all before he dies. (I wish he wouldn’t. Burn or die, that is.)
The cold came to a head last night while I was asleep and woke me up. I think I’m rebounding now. My zinc treatment made the worst of it not a fraction as bad as it could have been. Onwards and upwards.
Hey Dennis – Thanks for restoring this. I’d forgotten about all those books covers – sorry you had to recreate that part.
Had a great talk with Michael Salerno today, maybe cooking up something new with Kiddiepunk. Working on revisions with FSG, a few structural things they’re suggesting that I just don’t know about but overall it’s going pretty well. Finally got new glasses but they’ve gone from being so strong that I couldn’t stare at the computer to being weaker than my original prescription. Uggh.
Has anything been announced with the possible opera project and composer? Is that still moving along?
Wow – so happy to see this. I was given Blow Up and Other Stories as a present very recently and am completely enamoured of Cortazar’s writing at the moment. I guess I’ll move onto Hopscotch next and then maybe 62. Thanks for bring this back Jeff and Dennis!