Sunday, August 04, 2013

Blow-Up and Other Stories - Julio Cortázar

Hotchpotch was mesmerizing and will be read many times again. Ever since I was trying to read more of his writing. This collection of short stories, I understand, have varied reception. While few of my friends had very high opinion, there are many disappointed reactions. I too, went through the same upheaval while reading this book. Few of the stories were phenomenal and few did not make any ripples. This collection of stories, split into three parts, probably the time when they were written and in general the stories in the later part were more appealing than the earlier part.

"House taken over" from the first part was a brilliant story.  A brother and Sister living in their ancestral house, finds their house has been "taken over" by some one. The some one could be the authorities or forces that can not be confronted. The build up (of their daily routine, their interests knitting, the french literature etc)  and the irony of the old siblings ( the sure and gradual loosing of their hold on the place where they live, until forced out doors, locking the room and   The eery and scary atmosphere is build up by the sounds of encroachment  and noises they hear from adjoining rooms, in an otherwise silent house.  were captured with such a brilliance. I'm sure there would be a lot more interpretations of this story.

"The Pursuer" from the third part is another one that impressed me a lot. The story of a exceptionally talented and equally eccentric ( alcoholic, addicted) American Jazz musician, told through his biographer , a music critic is the longest story of the collection. This story is dedicated to Ch P ( Charles Parker ?),  Legendary musician, fighting his battle of personal issues, with the critic trying to support him rather ineffectively, and a silent witness in the form of his girlfriends. In the end, he not only bring himself down, he takes every one close to him through the downward spiral. "End of the Game" , "The Blow-up" apparently influenced the movie by the same name by Antonio Antonioni, and the first Axiotl were other interesting stories of this collection.

His style and the language here is very similar to Hotchpotch, easy and simple sentences grows into you.  He has a way of building the scene through his words. The human relations has an uneasy nature in almost every stories. They all are not necessarily ruled by the social norms. Even those stories, which did not make any great impression upon me, were carefully crafted. As a story teller, he is not behind any of his contemporaries. But this is no Hotchpotch, despite few  gems of stories.
Blow-Up and Other Stories ( 1963/1967)

Julio Cortázar

Pantheon Books

278 Pages

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