Monday, March 31, 2008
While I'm as much of a Jorge Luis Borges fan as most reading this little post, I cannot help but to wonder at the relative paucity of words on spec fic-related sites and blogs about one of Borges's compatriots, one who is in his own way just as much of a master of the short fiction form and of inventive prose as was Borges himself. An author whose stories contain such a richness of scene and of character as to give them an atmosphere that could be chilling whenever he so chose to explore those paths.
I am talking about Julio Cortázar. I have been reading the two-volume collection of his short stories these past few weeks, and I cannot help but to marvel at how well Cortázar constructs a vivid image with just a few brush strokes. Add to that the masterpiece that was his "novel," Rayuela (Hopscotch in the English-speaking market), and here was an author that pushed hard to find the limits of the storytelling form. There are haunted places in Cortázar's fictions, places that are much more immediate and personal than what would find in say a Borges or an Adolfo Bioy Casares. But just because Cortázar was more direct in his short stories does not mean that he failed to write stories that linger with the reader. If any have seen the 1960s movie Blow Up, they might have learned at some point that the film is based upon a translated story of Cortázar's of that name, ("Las babas del diablo" in Spanish). Although I have yet to see the movie, after reading the story, I cannot help but to think that the movie will be an experience different from most.
As for Rayuela, years before Milorad Pavić thought to write his encyclopedia-style novel The Dictionary of the Khazars, Cortázar constructed a tale in which the order of events can be read in multiple ways, creating a very non-linear flow to what on the surface appears to be a tragic love story. It is moving, original, and the narrative conceit that Cortázar employs here works extremely well. Yet there are few paeans being written for Cortázar on genre sites, at least compared to Borges and others who straddle the imaginary line between "mainstream literary" and "genre" literature. It is a crying shame. This is an author who deserves to be read by those who read within the genre as much as those who read outside it.