web counter VISITORS SINCE JUNE, 2006

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cortazar's "Hopscotch" and the End of the School Year

I haven't posted for a while due to the tremendous stress of final examinations week and the task of getting everything squared away in the classroom. But I did manage to finish "Hopscotch." I have to say that I found the protagonist's move to Argentina quite sudden after losing "La Maga." There was the incident with the failed pianist that was perhaps the best written part of the novel. Horacio Oliveira walks the streets of Paris aimlessly looking for "La Maga" after her son's death. He decides at the last minute to attend a piano recital given by one Berthe Trepat. The pieces being performed were a compilation of seemingly the worst the contemporary Paris music scene could offer. People begin to leave after the first few minutes of the performance and Berthe Trepat begins to notice. At the end of the concert, only Horacio is sitting in the hall and embarrassingly gives her a standing ovation all by himself. Afterwards, Horacio offers his services to walk Berthe home. The conversation is controlled by Berthe who engages in a litany of complains about how people do not enjoy or appreciate her music. I have to say that for me, this was the best part of the novel.

A little after, "La Maga's" son dies after the long illness that keeps him in bed for most of the novel. The "Club" comes apart at the seams and everyone parts in their own direction. Horacio returns to Argentina where he works as a trainer for a cat that can calculate and count accurately. There are two new characters here, Traveler and Talita. From here the novel really takes on an absurd path ending, accordingly enough, at a mental hospital. This novel didn't disappoint, but I can say I am dying to re-read it.

I am presently engaged with "Book by Book" by Michael Dirda. I somehow ended with three different books on my list this year that deal with the "madness" of reading voraciously. I think I want to convince myself that I am not the only insane mind that reads so much and with such obsession. The other is "Leave Me Alone, I am Reading" by Maureen Corrigan. The funny thing about Dirda is that I didn't really like him much while I was living in Washington, DC (he writes for "The Washington Post's Book World"). I love him now, and have read ALL of his books. He definitely is obsessed with reading and learning from his love of literature. It's easy to identify with him, but "Book by Book" is starting to sound like a collection of quotes and citations which is very different from his previous books. I will write more about this later.

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At 9:06 AM, Blogger Stefanie said...

wBook by Book and Leave Me Alone I'm reading are both fun ones. Have you ever read Nicholas Basbanes' A Gentle Madness? Or Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris? both are excellent good fun. I like reading books like these from time to time because, like you, I find comfort in knowing there are bookish people out there far crazier than I am :)


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