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Blow-Up: And Other Stories Paperback – February 12, 1985
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"[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."
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
"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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cortazar is an oft-overlooked master of the short story form. In this collection, he delivers stories befitted with beguiling metaphor, tremendous ambiguity, magical realist... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kevin F. Tasker
A wonderful set of stories. I had not read Cortazar before. I'm impressed.Published 7 months ago by C. Crawford
I'm a big fan of Cortazar's unique surrealistic writing style. For years, his short stories have been difficult or impossible to find in English. Read morePublished 12 months ago by SegNerd
Oh, Julio, if I could just have a moment to talk to you. You are up here in your heavenly jazz tree, on a higher branch then where I am sitting, laughing at the sadness of the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Glenn Russell