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Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Gregory Rabassa Translator. As one of the main characters, the intellectual Juan, puts it: to one person the City might appear as Paris, to another it might be where one goes upon getting out of bed in Barcelona; to another it might appear as a beer hall in Oslo.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published April 17th by New Directions first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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To ask other readers questions about 62 , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Mar 18, Oriana rated it it was amazing Shelves: read , perennialfavorites , read , phenomenal , read , read , read , dabbling. I just read this again for IDK like the 10th time. It is my favorite book of all time ever and I'd like to tell you about it. I suppose that I just read this again for IDK like the 10th time.
I suppose that means this'll be kind of spoilery? I mean it's really not that kind of book, but if you want to go into it blind, you should probably just not read this review at all. Okay here we go. So it opens on Juan alone on Christmas Eve at a subpar restaurant having just bought a book and in the process of getting diligently drunk, and someone else in the restaurant says something that reminds him of a series of things that he reminisces about -- except that it'll be clear later that those things haven't really happened yet, and not in the order he remembers them anyway.
So there's that at first. But then also laid over all of this as a semi-comprehensible patina is the City, like the ur-city maybe, where everyone sometimes slips into on their respective journeys, and everyone seems to have a moment or a mission there that they are constantly reliving or trying to complete, and sometimes they run into each other and other times they are endlessly fruitlessly searching and never finding what or whom they're meant to.
Third, several of the characters are never really explained, like for ex. Osvaldo you find out many pages in is actually a pet snail, and I think Feuille Morte is a bird although I'm not certain. Then there's a character called "my paredros," which, like the City, is not exactly one person but a composite person, or maybe it's each of them at different times. So they'll say things like "my paredros said," but when Juan says it he might mean Polanco, and when Nicole says it she might mean Calac, or maybe they all have an imaginary friend in common that everyone believes in together.
Finally fourth, he does this thing which by the third read I adored but at first I just found so jarring, which is that he switches from third person to first person all the time, often in the middle of a sentence. And especially at the start when you don't know who these people are or what they're like, it's just about impossible to know who's narrating when. Okay those are the disclaimers. Are you still with me? Because here are the characters.
He's ruggedly handsome actually I don't know if he's ever physically described, but in my head he's devastatingly gorgeous because Juan is exactly the boy I always and forever will unreachably fall in love with. He's from Buenos Aires and works as a U. For most of the course of this book he's in Vienna with Tell, his "crazy Danish girl. Tell She is this fabulous redheaded Danish marvel, very independent and fun and demanding.
She knows Juan isn't in love with her and she's perfectly happy to be his vixen for a little while when the whim takes her. Together they have a lot of sex and drink a lot of wine and have an adventure with a vampire maybe. Tell is fiercely protective of her friends, especially Nicole. Nicole She's French. Her boyfriend Marrast calls her "the Malcontent. She's in desperate, aching, unrequited love with Juan.
Things with Marrast are bad, and eventually she will do something about it, which I won't tell you because that does feel spoilery. When she's in the City there are red houses and high sidewalks and everything is despair. Marrast Also French, and darkly hilarious, and an overly smart sculptor. He does three things mostly in the book: 1. Make a gigantic commissioned sculpture for the town of Arcuile that's a deconstruction of what a sculpture should be in that it has its pedestal on top and the sculpture itself on the bottom, 2. Talks and talks and talks and drinks and talks and mourns the dissolution of his relationship with Nicole without being able to do anything about it, and 3.
Crafts this elaborate sort-of prank involving a random painting in an art gallery, a host of Anonymous Neurotics, and an unidentified plant sprig.
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These two could easily be dismissed as comic relief, which is often the role they fill -- Polanco, for ex, works at a nursery school with a lake and has inherited a canoe and unattached motor; the first time we meet him he's in a hotel room with an electric razor submerged in porridge because he thinks if he can keep it running, that will bode well for his soon-to-be-motorized canoe not tipping him out into the lake. He and Calac often speak in their own made-up language that is unparsable but still you get the idea.
They're not just comic relief, but their levity always comes in at just the right moments when things have got too heavy. Celia She's a fairly daffy young English girl who runs away from home and is very angstily sad. Eventually she winds up with Austin. Austin He begins as an Anonymous Neurotic, then becomes Marrast's French pupil, and winds up almost inadvertently as a major agent of the plot. Prior to that there's a hilarious episode where he describes sleeping with French girls who have huge elaborate hairdos and will only fuck in positions that will not get their heads anywhere near a pillow.
She might be evil actually, I can't say for sure. Her recurrence in the City has her always walking and walking, holding a package tied with a yellow cord that gets heavier and heavier, but she can't put it down until she gets where she's going, which of course she never does. I don't know, I thought laying that all out would prove that this is one of the most difficult but also the most beautiful and strange book that exists, but I'm not sure that's what happened.
All I have left to say is this: This book is magic, magic, magic; on every page, in every line, shot through every twistedly long and nearly un-parse-able sentence. One day I will meet someone who loves it as much as I do, and we will read it back and forth, bit by bit, over and over every day for the rest our lives. View all 35 comments. Jun 06, Geoff rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Staggeringly good. Ultimately it might be 62 and not Hopscotch or Blow-Up that endears Cortazar to you forever - but one way or another, you will be endeared.
Cannot recommend this highly enough - strange elliptical and haunted sad beauty, it reminded me of a night long ago I watched the reflection of a foreign city Pisa? View 2 comments. Jun 19, Jeff Jackson rated it it was amazing Shelves: cortazar , some-favorite-novels.
62: A Model Kit
This book is jaw dropping amazing. The episodic "Hopscotch" may have higher highs, but this is Julio Cortazar's greatest novel from start to finish. It's unlike anything else I've read. The closest analog might not be in literature but Jacques Rive For Dennis Cooper's blog, I recently transcribed a super rare interview Cortazar did in the late 60s while writing " A Model Kit. The closest analog might not be in literature but Jacques Rivette's wild films of the s.
The continual dislocations of time and space not to mention the vampire subplot lend the novel's realist situations a vertiginous sense of the fantastic. The point of view keeps shifting from character to character, slowly emphasizing a collective web of relationships over any one personality. Cortazar has profound insights into friendships and amorous relationships, but he offers them at steep and oblique angles. The book teaches you how to read its peculiar shifts and emotional hues and half-tones, though it can be tough going in the beginning while you're getting the hang of it.
But the novel's style quickly becomes intoxicating and you can see how the various intertwined and overlapping stories are hurtling toward their climaxes. Like all of Cortazar, you come out of the experience feeling enriched and seeing the world as if through a more powerful prescription. View all 18 comments. Aug 08, Nate D rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: the zone, the city, the plaza of streetcars.
Shelves: read-in , argentina , 60s-re-de-construction , favorites. And I had lived through too many attacks of those explosions of a power that came out of myself against myself not to know whether some were mere flashes of lightning that gave way to nothingness without leaving more than a frustration monotonous deja vu 's, meaningful associations, but swallowing their own tails , or other time, like the one that had just happened to me, were something astir in territory deep inside, wounding me all over like an iron claw, which, at the same time, was a door slammed in my face.
It's hard work: the overture is over 30 pages of revolving recollection built of highly significant but fragmented details which will be near-entirely lost on the new reader in favor of a few "mediocre phonetic associations". I had to read it twice, too tired to extract the deep-structures at first, then feeling them out but still unsure what all this seeming nonsense was indicating.
The solution was not to be found in the following adagio, where, at last, we are given a chance to learn all the characters who existed as flickers in the overture, nor, except partially, in the crescendo that followed. Here, at last, the story began to develop teeth of its own, I at last, pages in, realized that I was completely gripped and glad I had stuck with it through all that I had incorrectly suspected might not be worth the trouble.
And so on. What I'm left with: intimations of the spectral City the underlies all cities, a deep and sustained sorrow, a fuguer of characters who I had feared were another version of Hopscotch's muddled expat bohemian Club, but who I actually find so much more interesting and affecting, and that dark and leering constellation which ties together the devastating orchestrations of an unkempt but terribly formal universe. It's absolutely not for everyone. I've struggled somewhat with Cortazar, to the point that I actually wrote a long entry here explaining how we just weren't made for eachother at page Only to found myself captivated by every page that followed.
Had the book changed or had I? Had we changed eachother, as people do, insidiously? All told, I'll stick with him, will keep sticking with him, as long as he has anything like this to show me. Found in this article which is very helpful, but also prone to spoilers, so don't read it until afterwards. Apparently, it's fast which I knew but often humorous which I did not know, and in no way applies to this terrifying stretch of Cortazar's book.
My reference point here, was the "Suicide Scherzo" arranged out of Beethoven's 9th in A Clockwork Orange so think more on those lines. View all 4 comments. Aug 19, Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing Shelves: argentine-fiction. In this chapter the narrator sketches the idea of a novel that would replace individual human behavior by social behavior and neural activity by character activity. Reading Chapter 62 gives the impression that A Model Kit would be coldly analytical, abstract, un-feeling; which in a way is true, but somehow it also manages to be deeply moving.
How is this possible? From paragraph to paragraph, even sentence to sentence, the voice constantly shifts from third to first to snail, from inner to outer, from omniscient to limited, from snail to carefree imbecile. This voice from the collective conscious, even with all its abstractions and elusiveness, manages to bind the characters and the narratives they inhabit together in a social fluidity that transcends them all on a fundamental level, on the deeper levels of interpersonal consciousness itself.
But like a system of metaphysics it can be very offputting at first, until one finds one's footing in the verbal cloud-cuckooness. Without rereading it at least one more time, I feel ill-equipped to offer much commentary on this staggering novel. Even just now beginning to reread a few early pages I gained more insight into later parts of the book that I did not even realize I lacked.
From both a thematic standpoint and in terms of a general reaction to the book's flow, the closest analogue for this from my own reading experience would be Joseph McElroy's Lookout Cartridge published six years after A Model Kit , althou Without rereading it at least one more time, I feel ill-equipped to offer much commentary on this staggering novel. The two books also share common ground on a structural level, with frequent shifts in tense and point-of-view coupled with a general disregard for linear time.
There is fair warning of these literary transgressions provided by the author in a foreword, though the necessity of such a warning likely varies from reader to reader. As one settles into the strange, unstable environment of this novel it quickly becomes apparent that in order to fully immerse oneself any expectations are best left behind. And it's entirely possible that on a complete reread those passages that bored me before might come to feel integral to the text.
Either way, though, the book comes closer to flawless than any I've read in quite some time. View all 6 comments. Very interesting and unusual novel. It's a bit slow to start with and not an easy read by any means but well worth the effort.
It's too bad more people haven't read Cortazar. May 16, David Katzman rated it did not like it Shelves: unfinished. A tale of two cities. One is Madrid the other imaginary. A tale of two novels written by itinerant, international authors both of whom had Spanish as their first language. A tale of two experimental novels.
One I loved; one I did not. Can you guess which is which? Alfau published Locos: a Comedy of Gestures in in English. Cortazar had Argentinean parents but was born in Europe then moved back A tale of two cities. Cortazar had Argentinean parents but was born in Europe then moved back to Buenos Aires when he was very young and later, back to Europe. Alfau was born in Barcelona but moved to the United States when he was Locos was published when he was Call me crazy , but I loved Locos.
Pun intended. It is charming and cruel, tragic and hilarious, ambiguous yet direct, and written with clear, poetic prose. The experimental style on display never overwhelmed the narrative. Despite the fact that Alfau directly declares the fictive nature of his characters, he made me care about them. Unfortunately, I found a Model Kit to be nearly the opposite despite significant similarities. Cortazar seems to be peopling an imaginary city with characters and scenarios imagined by the very characters in the story, but unfortunately they never seemed real.
The characters seemed undeveloped, Cortazar would reveal a quirky trait here or there, but they came across as highly abstract intellectual exercises. Where as Alfau acknowledges the characters are abstract, but he made them seem real! I found the prose in 62 to be opaque and unwelcoming. The sentences zigzagged in ways that didn't complement my brain. I felt like I was constantly trying to trace the thoughts of an intellectual squirrel on crystal meth.
Have you ever done crystal meth? It's like being on a mega-dose of caffeine but it sucks out all your wit. You are basically an idiot who thinks he's not. At any rate, every phrase that Cortazar wrote took the sentence in a different direction, and I became tired of trying to figure out what he was trying to say. I found the writing tedious. I couldn't get the meaning out of it. I don't know if I should put some blame on the translation or not, but after 60 pages I threw in the towel. I skimmed forward just to pick out sentences here and there and could see that it was essentially the same book throughout.
This experience was severely disappointing after I quite enjoyed reading Autonauts of the Cosmoroute With Locos , Alfau seems to be following in the footsteps of fellow Spaniard Luigi Pirandello who wrote a play in entitled Six Characters In Search of an Author. I actually performed in this show in college! But Alfau goes to a place that blends great humor with the tragedy. The story begins roughly with Alfau, playing himself, at a cafe with a "friend" who becomes a character in the book. This cafe is where bad authors go to discover characters for their stories.
In that cafe, we meet many of the characters who will populate the book. Note the irony. What follows is a series of interconnected short stories about many of them. Most characters reappear throughout and even when they are not featured, a brief mention may act as a dramatic revelation that changes significantly what you read before. And further, some of the characters seem to metamorphosize and despite having the same names, serve different roles or have different relationships in subsequent stories.
The entirety manages to hold together as more of a novel than a collection partly thanks to the overlapping characters, partly through the consistent tone and style, and partly because Alfau is always in the background or making appearances as "the author. Trust me, it just works. Some of the stories are quite hilarious. Some are devastating and yet often absurd. In one case, a man is obsessed with fingerprints because he believes his father invented the And didn't receive the recognition he deserves. In another scenario, the police are having a convention in Madrid at the same time as a blackout citywide occurs, which leads to a crimewave of everyone mugging just about everyone.
And the police are so busy with their convention that they are too tired to even arrest anyone. It's so ridiculous, Lucy. The theme of the absurdity of life is never far from the surface. I devoured Locos ; I dropped 62 like a hot potato. If you want to dip your toe into some literature that is experimental without being alienating, then I highly recommend Locos. It's just flat out brilliant, feels modern post in content and style, and it's a book that can be read multiple times.
Love, love, loved it. May 18, Mariel rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: King of Spain.