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Julio Cortázar, Julio Cortázar: Blow-up, and other stories (1985, Pantheon Books) 4 stars

Review of 'Blow-up, and other stories' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

If this is not a 5 star collection of stories there are no 5 star collections. This is the kind of writing that will make anyone aspiring to the craft feel worse than Salieri.

Separated into 3 parts, my experience reading was that the stories began as a demonstration of dazzling skill in part one, with memorable works such as "Axolotl" and "House Taken Over," they moved into isolated masterclasses of craft in part two ("Blow-up," with its assiduous interest in the narrative mechanics of truth blew me up), but by part three Cortázar shed his pedogogy and, well, there's no other word, the final stories in this collection are ascendant. He pushed beyond himself and attained a level of work very few writers can obtain.

The earlier stories demonstrate mastery over technique and craftsmanship that are clear to recognize because he didn't invent them, he just employs them expertly. The final stories explore new territory. He invents mechanisms to convey new ideas. "The Pursuer" operates in ways I can only just grasp and "Secret Weapons" is one the most important stories in this collection. It does things at a level of craft I will need to study much longer in order to understand.

I'm not adding anything new when I say Cortázar was a master writer but in case you've forgotten, or haven't gotten to him yet, let this review encourage you to read his work!