Thursday, 16 October 2014

Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar


In its own way, this book consists of many books, but two books above all.

The first can be read in a normal fashion and it ends with Chapter 56, at the close of which there are three garish little stars which stand for the words The End. Consequently, the reader may ignore what follows with a clean conscience.

The second should be read by beginning with Chapter 73 and then following the sequence indicated at the end of each chapter. In case of confusion or forgetfulness, one need only consult the following list: etc.

This is how my copy of the book begins. It's an interesting idea if it's true, I mean reading a book out of order or that there are two different ways to read a book, in two different orders that would produce two different stories.

Chapter 1 begins like this:

WOULD I find La Maga? 

This raises a question but there is no reason to care.

Most of the time it was just a case of my putting in an appearance, going along the Rue de Seine to the arch leading into the Quai de Conti, and I would see her slender form against the olive-ashen light which floats along the river as she crossed back and forth on the Pont des Arts, or leaned over the iron rail looking at the water. It was quite natural for me to climb the steps to the bridge, go into its narrowness and over to where La Maga stood. 

The writing style is descriptive yet tight. Nevertheless, this opening fails to hook me. It is literary fiction and therefore one must make a conscious decision to read this and carry on with shear will, as the writer has other things on his mind besides hooking.

First thing said:

"You couldn't do it," she said. "You think too much before you do anything."

This is near the end of chapter 3, so characters saying things doesn't figure into the story telling process in this novel, at least not in the beginning.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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