Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Le Veilleur II

Paul Delvaux

This painting adorns the cover of Julio Cortázar's now out-of-print collection of essays entitled Around the Day in Eighty Worlds. I was lucky enough to find a nice copy the other day at Half Price Books, and boy am I happy about it. Loaded with pictures and sketches and little anecdotes, this sucker has tidbits about his friends Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, and many others. It's seriously a treat.

Cortázar was certainly a monumental writer, giving us such dizzyingly brilliant books as Blow-Up: and Other Stories, which director Michelangelo Antonioni turned into a film, and Rayuela (Hopscotch) - a work so innovative in its experimentation that it literally turned the art of the novel upside-down and shook all the boring out. Imagine a free form jazz prose poem mashed with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and voilà.

If you don't believe me. If you think I'm over-hyping the guy, take a look at what Pablo Neruda said about him:

"Anyone who doesn't read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair. I don't want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar."

Now run out and find a copy of anything written by Cortázar...sit down wherever you feel most some blueberries...drink some water...and enjoy the feast of his artistry.

You'll be more human afterwards. I promise.

ps - new photo over at Cityscape Junction.