So you can read my books

Monday, August 26, 2013


How can that be you ask.  How can there be a genius who never was?

If his memory slips into oblivion, if his poetry never haunts a reader's heart, if his essays never trouble your thoughts ...

Has that genius ever existed?

"Anyone who doesn't read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences.

Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches.

He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair.

I don't want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar."
— Pablo Neruda about Julio Cortazar, who was born on this day in 1914.

 “I sometimes longed for someone who, like me, had not adjusted perfectly with his age, and such a person was hard to find; but I soon discovered cats, in which I could imagine a condition like mine, and books, where I found it quite often.”
Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

“She would smile and show no surprise, convinced as she was, the same as I, that casual meetings are apt to be just the opposite, and that people who make dates are the same kind who need lines on their writing paper, or who always squeeze up from the bottom on a tube of toothpaste.”
Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

“Wordplay hides a key to reality that the dictionary tries in vain to lock inside every free word.”
Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

“But what is memory if not the language of feeling, a dictionary of faces and days and smells which repeat themselves like the verbs and adjectives in a speech, sneaking in behind the thing itself,into the pure present, making us sad or teaching us vicariously...”
Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

Memory weaves and traps us at the same time according to a scheme in which we do not participate: we should never speak of our memory, for it is anything but ours; it works on its own terms, it assists us while deceiving us or perhaps deceives up to assist us.”
Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

Julio Cortázar, born Jules Florencio Cortázar --
August 26, 1914 – February 12, 1984),
was an Argentine novelist, short story writer, and essayist.

Known as one of the founders of the Latin American Boom, Cortázar influenced an entire generation of Spanish-speaking readers and writers in the Americas and Europe. He has been called a "modern master of the short story."

Cortázar often sits at my table at Meilori's.  I wanted to introduce him to you so that you would be familiar with him should I ever write of our discussions.

Until then, check out his books.  You will be pleased.

Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
The most remarked-on aspect of Hopscotch is its format: the book is split into 56 regular chapters and 99 “expendable” ones.

Readers may read straight through the regular chapters (ignoring the expendable ones)

or follow numbers left at the end of each chapter telling the reader which one to read next

(eventually taking her through all but one of the chapters).

The book is the story of Horacio Oliveira, an Argentine bohemian clambering through Paris.

He’s defined by the conviction that he has chosen the wrong path in life.

His girlfriend, La Maga, is his infuriating opposite.

A dilettante who constantly, unabashedly asks Oliveira the most basic questions about art and literature, she seems to be able to live life precisely as Oliveira wishes he could.

She has transcended the question of which path to follow (perhaps because she has never stopped to notice it).


  1. Just as a tree can fall in the woods though no one may hear it, a genius can exist, free - or not - of the trappings of his or her geniusness.

  2. You've had so many of the greats sitting at your table at Meilori's. You're so lucky. I don't think I've heard of Julio .Cortazar, but he sounds just lovely

  3. He's new to me. I don't think I'd like having options when it comes to chapters and expendable parts of a book. I've never liked the choose-your-own ending type of story.

    I think the beginning, the middle and the end are the responsibility of the author. Don't make me - the reader - decide if it's to be rainbows or skulls. . .

  4. Now I've got to read his book. What an interesting man.

  5. I feel like I sat down to a very meaty meal. I'm copying and pasting so I can 'chew' on the quotes you posted. Very deep. I like them.

    You're familiar with the most fascinating people! Do you read them currently? Or did you find them in college?

    The story of how he created the Cronopios was interesting. I would have been a little freaked, I think :)

  6. Angela:
    I agree. Yet, it saddens me that so many who would love his work are unaware of the man even existing.

    He was such a Renaissance Man: poet, musician, essayist, master of the short story, philosopher, and novelist. And a cat lover! The ghost of Gypsy approves of him just for that! :-)

    HOPSCOTCH was not a "Lady or the Tiger" kind of novelist. Nor was every novel like HOPSCOTCH. He told a straight-through story with the main chapters. The "Expendable Chapters" are merely extras that lend depth and musings to the main story. I did Cortazar a disservice if I gave that impression.

    His prose is evocative and thought-provoking as his quotes indicate.

    I thought you might be interested in HOPSCOTCH for its Paris setting and for its view of the life of that city for its creative people.

    We Europeans and North Americas People are unaware of the rich literature of South America.

    He was indeed an interesting man, full of life and musings and love.

    I think you will like HOPSCOTCH if you give it a try. :-)

    Words Crafter:
    I read some currently. Some I met in college. Some I meet through the letters of famous writers and go, "That author sounds like a fascinating man." Such was the way I recently discovered Cortazar.

    Wasn't the story of how he created the Cronopios fascinating? And I could picture the society of Paris in those long ago years. To think of seeing that musical genius actually conducting right in front of you! :-)