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Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar
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Dec 01, 09

Recommended for: good people with bad attitudes
Read in September, 2009, read count: 1

Semi-miserable man with girlfriend but no job finally leaves Paris after girlfriend maybe kills herself, but not before getting intimate with a derelict female. Back home in Buenos Aires, he works, maybe goes crazy, and maybe kills himself. For the duration of the novel's A to Z — which can be traversed directly, or in a bulkier roundabout way — people smoke and listen to Jazz and talk about things as if their opinion mattered.

Despite the sort of gamey structure of the text, the characters and scenes presented within were vibrant and precise. At the same time there were elements that echoed quite deliberately with each other; elements the same in some ways, but composed with different actors, or from another perspective, or sometimes (most insidiously) even including the reader in their design. I sometimes had the impression that not only had my act of reading breathed life into otherwise dead forms — one of the characters may have ruminated on something similar while listening to a record — but that I myself was a little less real, not exactly alive while engaged with the text.

I had not heard of this book or the author of this book until just before it arrived via the magic warehouse that is the internet. It was assigned as part of a book club that I had just joined; first book in a first club. Oddly, it garnered more than the usual amount of recognition from people, some strangers, some friends, that I encountered while lugging it about. Quite often I'm reading something nobody else has heard of, so it was strange to be carrying about a book that it seemed was familiar to everyone but myself.
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