Julio Cortázar, one of the greatest writers ever,1 was born on August 26, 1914, and to celebrate the week of his birthday, Archipelago Books, one of the greatest presses ever, is offering a 25% discount on all three of the Cortázar books that they publish. Just insert “HOPSCOTCH13,” a code based on one of the greatest books ever written, at the checkout to get the discount.
Here’s a bit more info about the three Cortázar titles that Archipelago publishes:
The concept behind Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is so perfectly Cortazarian in its gamelike setup: Julio Cortazar and his companion Carol Dunlop decide to spend an entire month in 1982 living on the freeway between Paris and Marseille (the “Southern Thruway,” which was the name and topic of an earlier Cortazar story), stopping at two rest stops each day and staying overnight at the second. With only 490 miles separating Paris and Marseilles, they don’t actually drive for very long on any given day. Using words and pictures, they create a scientific account of their journey, their thoughts, their experiences, of living life in a Volkswagen bus at a snail’s pace, discovering the secret pathway right next to this modern creation designed to be experienced at a blur.
It’s a mad idea, but not without it’s charm. [. . .]
Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is a strange book—not just in terms of Cortazar’s oeuvre, but in general. It’s a book to be cherished over a series of days, read leisurely, without trying to tease out any big themes, or gain any great insights. It’s a book shot through with nostalgia, conveying a longing for a simpler time, for a month in the “country” experimenting with a new way to live and truly creating a special experience for these two people. There is an undercurrent of sadness running throughout, and for good reason: in the prologue, Cortazar’s “illness” is mentioned (he reportedly died of leukemia in 1984), and at the very end, Dunlop has passed away and Cortazar is editing the book by himself. This is a special book, definitely worth reading, one that will alter your view of highways forever.
(From the review I wrote for Quarterly Conversation.)
In my opinion, From the Observatory is the most challenging of all his books that I’ve read. In part, this is due to my own blindspot when it comes to poetry and poetic writing; in part, this is due to the elusive mingling of images and ideas present in this short, dense text.
In the interview I conducted earlier this week with Anne McLean [no longer available online] we talked a bit about the “Julio Cortazar” that Archipelago has been constructing through the publication of From the Observatory, The Diary of Andres Fava, and Autonauts of the Cosmoroute. In contrast to the Big Ideas and novelistic pyrotechnics found in the “classic” novels, these three books are quieter, and more personal. And in a way, they seem more focused on producing beautiful individual lines, than wowing the world with grand philosophical ideas.
That’s not to say that From the Observatory isn’t philosophical or removed from Cortazar’s earlier interests. Science and scientific metaphors run throughout Cortazar’s work, and are foregrounded in this piece, which intertwines information about the life cycle of eels from an article by Claude Lamotte that appeared in Le Monde with photographs and information about Jai Singh’s observatories.
(From this Three Percent review.)
The jacket copy:
Andrés Fava is a character from Cortázar’s Final Exam, and his diary originally formed part of that novel, written in 1950 but not published (for political reasons) until after the author’s death. At some point, Cortázar decided Fava’s diary should stand on its own as an independent work.
While Final Exam is mostly dialogue, Diary of Andrés Fava is all reflection: on his reading, dreams, conversations and writing. This unpredictable collection is peppered with quotes from French poets and American jazzmen. Bemused and melancholy, erudite and searching, this first-time English translation of Diario de Andrés Fava is full of autobiographical winks at the reader. Cortázar’s brilliance and irreverence are in full flower.
So head here now and buy them all . . .
1 After I get my hyphellipses tattoo—which I’ve been talking about for literally ever—I want a “62” somewhere in honor of Cortázar’s 62: A Model Kit.
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .
The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .
Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .
The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .