Blow-up and Other Stories
Julio Cortazar has been one of my favourite ‘found’ writers over the last year.
In 1984, Cortazar left the world with an extensive collection of unnerving tales. His work is considered by many to bob at the high water mark of short story writing, the author having deeply influenced a number of twentieth century writers, including Chilean author Roberto Bolano and Gabriel García Márquez.
Blow-up and Other Stories features fifteen stories from Cortazar’s library, including pieces long time fans will probably recognise such as “Blow-up”, “End of the Game” and “Continuity of Parks”. Cortazar’s stories play liberally with time and narrative, in one a man reading a mystery finds out too late that he is the murderer’s victim, in another an amphibious reptile swaps places with a boy watching outside the glass tank.
In each story Cortazar achieves that careful mix of surreal and real, twisting his fluid prose through unfamiliar and often unsettling territory. Somehow he’s able to ground even the most unlikely premise in reality, such as in “A Letter to a Young Lady in Paris” where a man grapples with a bizarre gag reflex; vomiting up a litter of perfect grey bunnies.
This is a different and unusual collection, one of those rare finds (recommended to me by a friend) that has already had great influence on my writing.
For a taste of Cortazar, check out his very short story Continuity of Parks.
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