AROUND THE DAY IN EIGHTY WORLDS by Julio Cortazar

AROUND THE DAY IN EIGHTY WORLDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The poems, stories, essays, and illustrations that make up this ""collage book"" by the late Argentinean surrealist (1914-1984) amount to a post-modern ars poetica--an almanac of the absurd. The stories, most of them actually bizarre vignettes, invoke the imaginary worlds of Cortazar's fabulistic novels. A young man gradually sinks into the ground, and nobody seems to notice (""The Most Profound Caress""); a hand named ""Dg"" flies into the window of an unsuspecting narrator (""Season of the Hand""); a travelling couple can't remember mid-trip where they're headed (""The Journey"")--all very Kafkaesque, though Cortazar adds a distinctly Latin beat. The few scattered poems, on the other hand, are too inchoate to suggest much of anything. They rely on an aesthetic of randomness and uncertainty, and enact those principles to dizzying perfection. The most pleasurable spots in this transcontinental tour through one man's mind are the relatively straightforward essays, which celebrate his favorite jazzmen, writers, and artists: Lester Young, Clifford Brown, Thelonious Monk, and Louis Armstrong; Tzara, Aragon, Roussel, and Poe; Dali and, of course, Duchamp. Cortazar also dilates upon idiots and their enthusiasms, murderers and their victims; and he rails against the bourgeoisie at every opportunity, though it's easy to forget who belongs to which category in all this heady stuff. Exercises in ""displacement"" and ""estrangement"" that resist interpretation in any conventional sense. Halfway through this magical mystery tour, Cortazar admits: ""do not expect too much coherence from this trip around a day."" Wish he'd told us sooner.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1986
Publisher: North Point