Julio Cortázar

It’s quite possible that a good deal of readers of Cortázar feel much like Literary Moose, but I’d guess there are a lot of obsessive fans at the same time. You can read this book in two ways: either straight through chapters 1 to 56 in sequence (i.e. linear) or choose-your-own-adventure style, following either the map in the Table of Instructions or the numbers at the end of each chapter (i.e., non-linear).

I went the linear route, not sure if I wanted to invest into the full 560 pages of the book; after the end, unable to resist more context, I was sneaking into the “expendable chapters” (which are sometimes small pieces of the story seemingly edited out or essays or quotes and who knows what else). I will have to re-read this sometime the non-linear way, as it seems impossible to fully take in the whole book with just the first 56 chapters read in sequence, but feel like I’ve spent enough time with this for now. I should have just started in the non-linear way; oh well.

The story itself probably isn’t incredibly compelling to relate. An Argentinian man lives in Paris and he has a mistress, who is also from Latin America, and he is not in love with her. Paris is a dark, damp place. They are part of a circle of bohemian intellectuals. The narrative is all rather internal, but the imagery is hypnotic. Long chapters of stream-of-consciousness will either pull readers in or set them off. An intriguing experimental read.