62: A Model Kit – Julio Cortázar (1968)

“… 62: A Model Kit is an attempt to fulfill these novelistic intentions. It is (in this fine translation by Gregory Rabassa) a deeply touching, enjoyable novel, beautifully written and fascinatingly mysterious and intri cate in its designs. It realizes Morelli’s (and Cortazar’s) desire to find new and free modes of organization in fiction, and I think that in some way it actually does offer a plausible alternative to those certainties of ‘psychological causality’ which, ac cording to Morelli, are standing in the way of another human mutation, of life once again ‘trying to change its key.’ There is, however, a risky inti macy between the experimental and the conventional in 62: A Model Kit. The book does have a plot of sorts, as well as characters who seem to fit quite neatly into the psy chological categories of realistic fic tion. The story takes place mainly in Paris, London and Vienna. The characters have nationalities, jobs and recognizable feelings. Juan is an interpreter who has been having an affair with the Danish girl, Tell, al though he is in love with the frigid and/or lesbian Frenchwoman Hélène (who is an anesthetist). The French sculptor Marrast lives with Nicole, who loves Juan. The young girl Celia is seduced by Helene, but presum ably saves herself from being emotionally vampirized by Hélène by be ginning an affair with Austin, an English boy who the lute. Not much happens in the novel: Marrast plays a practical joke on the Courtauld Museum in London, Juan and Tell suspect that a certain Frau Marta in their hotel in Vienna is out to vampirize an English girl tour ist, and Tell sends Hélène a doll which turns out to be stuffed with (I gather) a phallus. There is a lot of horsing around; people drink as tonishing quantities of whisky and smoke an alarming number of cigarettes; and while the characters tend to avoid explicit talk about ‘serious’ topics, almost everyone is quietly, and seriously, afflicted with the melancholy of unrequited love. In a sense, Cortázar’s work offers us several of the habits and much of the sensibility of a novel from the twenties. …”
NY Times: A funny horror story about falling in love with the wrong people (1972)
The Atlantic: The Subtle Radicalism of Julio Cortázar’s Berkeley Lectures
The Paris Review: Bring Back Cortázar
NY Times: Brother, Come Back – Ariel Dorfman

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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