Harold's Reviews > Blow-Up and Other Stories

Blow-Up and Other Stories by Julio Cortázar
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's review
Jul 29, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: argentina, classic-literature, short-stories, latin-america
Read from July 29 to 30, 2010

Cortazar isn't easy to read but he's worth the effort. In this collection of short stories several stand out in my mind - Axolotl, House Taken Over, Bestiary, Blow-Up, End of the Game and The Pursuer.

I was particularly surprised to find out that Cortazar was very knowledgeable about jazz. The Pursuer is a 65 page short story about a jazz musician named Johnny Carter. It soon becomes apparent that Cortazar is writing about jazz great Charlie Parker. Many of the principle characters are easily identifiable as people associated with Parker. The real life Countess Nica de Koenigswarter is Marquesa Tica. Chan Parker is Lan, Pree is Bee. Jazz aficionados will have no problem matching up the fictional names to their real life counterparts. The story’s action takes place in Paris and is narrated by an associate of Carter who has written a biography of the musician. We learn of a recording session where Carter can’t complete a take (due to his drug and mental problems). The song produced is entitled Amorous. This is a reference to the famous Lover Man session in LA where Parker couldn’t complete the take and later that day had a complete nervous breakdown, resulting in his spending six months in what was then called a sanitarium and we now call rehab. (In both fiction and real life the resulting record is released anyway over the objections of the artist.) At first we think the narrator is a good friend of Carter who understands his talent and problems but little by little he reveals himself as just another sycophant who benefits from his association with Carter without truly understanding the depth of his talent or personality . At one time he wishes for Carter’s death and by the end he tells us Carter is “…a poor sonofabitch with barely mediocre intelligence, endowed like so many musicians, so many chess players and poets, with the gift of creating incredible things without the slightest consciousness…”
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Reading Progress

07/29/2010 page 226
05/29/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Marc A. (new)

Marc  A. The last bit sounds a lot like a Mozart/Salieri dynamic.

Harold Marc wrote: "The last bit sounds a lot like a Mozart/Salieri dynamic."
Yeah...to a point. The narrator isn't a player. He's a writer..but the jealousy is still there. Carter (Bird) is a musical genius - this guy isn't.

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