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Blow-Up: And Other Stories Paperback – February 12, 1985

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Blow-Up and Other Stories:

"[Cortazar] is a unique storyteller. He can induce the kind of chilling unease that strikes like a sound in the night."

"Julio Cortazar is a stunning writer. It is difficult to imagine how he could improve as a writer of short stories."
The Christian Science Monitor

"A glittering showcase for a daring talent . . . Julio Cortazar is a dazzler."
—William Hogan, San Francisco Chronicle

"A first-class literary imagination at work."
The New York Times Book Review

"Cortazar displays throughout his stories the ability to elevate them above the condition of those gimmicky tales which depend for effect soley on a twist ending. His genius here lies in the knack for constructing striking, artistically 'right' subordinate circumstances out of which his fantastic and metaphysical whimsies appear normally to spring."
Saturday Review

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books; 1st Pantheon pbk. ed edition (February 12, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394728815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394728810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Odysseus on July 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was my first experience with reading Cortazar. From the first story on, the excitement of encountering a new (to me) brilliant writer went through me like an electric shock. The book injected an excitement and alertness into what otherwise might have been a sluggish weekend.

I have found, however, that explaining the basis of this excitement to others is not easy. It comes down to the difficulty of explaining what it is that makes great writers truly great -- an elusive insight.

Part of it is simple virtuosity; Cortazar possesses that which also distinguishes the writing of other greats such as Nabokov and Proust: that facility with language, the ability to find and to manipulate exactly the right words, to create a precise, vivid image, and to make music out of prose. (Note: I could perceive his virtuosity even though I read this book as an English translation.)

But it goes beyond virtuosity. If Cortazar wrote about ideas to which I was indifferent, the writing would not matter to me. But his stories inspire those flashes of recognition that make reading exciting; he creates those "aha" moments through his ability to present a feeling or situation that you recognize on some level, even if it's one that never previously made it out of your subconscious and which you might not have thought to remark upon, had not Cortazar dug it up for you.

From the general to the specific: This is a collection of short stories, most of which contain an element of the fantastic. Some of the flashes of recognition that I mention above are recognitions of mundane, daily feelings, but others are not. Cortazar seems to have ready access as well to our subconscious fears and to our dreams.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on December 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Julio Cortazar reminds me more of the late great Spanish film director, Luis Bunuel, one of the founding fathers of Surrealism, who once remarked that, when writing a film, he always aimed for whatever was most disturbing in any given situation. Similarly, Cortazar's stories are all constructed around a disturbing vision. In "The End of the Game," for instance, three children don bizarre costumes and assume attitudes for the passengers on the trains that zip by them.
"Blow-Up" is very different from Antonioni's film. There is a menace in the interplay between the photographer, his unwitting subjects, and a third party who was watching both.
My favorite story in the collection is "The Pursuer," a nakedly brilliant study of a black American Jazz musician and the critic who never quite understands the demons that give birth to the music. The story is dedicated to Ch. P., who I assume is Charley Parker. Cortazar's musician lives on the edge and is plagued by disturbing visions as he spirals down into a personal apocalypse. The critic, on the other hand, tries ineffectually to help the musician, but is more worried about what people will say about his latest study of the musician's work.
Cortazar's stories take place in a kind of half-European, half-Latin Neverland. Born in Belgium of Argentinian parents, he spent most of his life in Europe. It is as if the author's self-exile gave birth to a demon of restlessness that possessed his characters.
Although this is the first Cortazar I have read, it will not be the last.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on August 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Julio Cortazar is a revolutionary but one far from home and not a political revolutionary but one that roams the further reaches of the psyche, just beyond where civilization says it is safe to go. Every single one of his many short stories is worth reading(so, if available, get all of them). His novels I find too experimental and mired in his theories but in the short story he shines like very few others. Some of his best are told through a childs perspective and all of his shorter fictions in a way take you into that kind of place where wonder still outweighs any learned way of seeing "reality" which in Cortazar is always in quotes. Cortazar likes to take you out of your normal context and give you a whole new set of associations, a whole new world to walk in. His novels are difficult but his stories are not. They invite the best kinds of speculation but they can also be appreciated at a glance. Cortazar is reputed to have had a very large record collection, mostly jazz, in his Paris lair in the sixties. I think he is one of those authors who would have been very interesting to know. Hip to the way peoples perception of the world were changing at the time, but persistent in his personal quests which led him down many strange avenues. To this his stories will attest. A note: Cortazar is sometimes grouped in with Borges and there are some good reasons why but I prefer Cortazar. Both play games with logic but Cortazar pleases both the mind and the emotions. The effect is more subtle.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Juan Preciado on October 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Cortazar is one of the most amazing writers in Latin American literature. He is also almost completely unknown in the US. As far as this goes, then, this translation fills a huge gap; and one of this book's merits is that it makes Cortazar and his stories more widely known.

The translation itself, however, is subpar. You will certainly get the gist of the stories, and since a large part of Cortazar's stories hinge on the plot lines, you will definitely enjoy this book. However, just as much (in my opinion) of Cortazar's genius lies in his use of language as it does in his crazy imagination. And, I'm very sorry to say, this translation really doesn't do justice to him at all.

My recommendation, then: if you have never read Cortazar, this book will provide an excellent introduction to his works. Until a better translation is available, we must do with what we have: Cortazar is definitely worthwhile, no matter how much gets lost in the translation. Don't expect, however, full justice to be made to Cortazar's use of language. As is usual in these cases, the best way to read him is to tackle him in Spanish.
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