"It is worthless, beautiful women always go on the other boat"
(From his novel Prices)
The year is 1950. The rain disappears old window London Bar, as British as its name, in the corner of Peru and the May Avenue. Between a cold coffee and an ashtray that doesn't accept a pucho more, Julio Florencio Cortázar Descotte, year 36, face of boy, giganton of nearly two meters – graft of man and poplar, combed with jopo, to the use of these days, stop writing Prices: his first novel.
But no: first for literary reviews and biographies. Too short a time before it has ended examination. An anti-Peronist allegory that ends with a heavy fog like the funerals of Plaza de Mayo, Leaders, General, El Potros scene and his wife, The Fair of the Poor.
In truth, his second attempt at the regime. The first was his story House taken, his first reader was Borges, and also the man who published it in a literary supplement.
Congratulations as they say in bulls and bullfighters …
Julio dares to feed examinationbut not to take it on paper: the censorship is tough, and the punishment can be worse. It will only hit the national shelves … 1986!
And very soon, farewell. The year is 1951. July begins. Destination: Paris. And it will not return until – yet only in passing – in the early 70s, and already sick (leukemia?), In Alfons and the days of democracy.
Then he knows (and explains) it "I am a literary animal". Nothing more true: write poems from nine years old, "and the sunsets come out around".
Of course, for a similar animal is Paris Mecca. Mezzanine without elevator. The best black tobacco in the world (Gitanes, Gauloises, without filters, of course). Furtive cats sliding through the window. Jazz all the time (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, the tragic saxophonist immortalized in his story persecutor). And classics: from Bach to Bela Bártok, everyone spins off the scale.
But Buenos Aires did not die in his retina or in his heart. Corrientes Street pulls it; the intersection of the streets of the Agronomy, where he lived; Morocho del Abasto's eternal voice; the wandering, and above all the box: one of his lusts or perhaps crazy things.
He was just nine years old in 1923 when he, at the Polo Grounds in New York, Luis Ángel Firpo, one of the black and white checkered mantle, took out of the ring in the first round, of an almost fatal blow, the world champion Jack Dempsey.
Firpo water (Jack returned to the ring, helped by the audience, almost twenty seconds later), "but they stole", recalled Julio, who never resigned to defeat: Dempsey beat him in the second round.
Meanwhile, he loved Carlos Monzón and a Nicolino Locche, but never as much as Justo SuárezTorito de Mataderos, a former boxer who died alone, without copper and tuberculosis in Cordoba, and also lost by a blond casquivana: a tango, in short, that Julio became a memorable tale: Torito.
Written in the first person and from the skin and voice of his idol: "And I, Torito, Dale Dale, Dale Dale". And so, between two worlds, "write because I feel like it and because I do not know how to do something else", unequivocally thought of the most original, most provocative, and strangest literature of a silverson, far ahead of the famous Latin American boom.
In Buenos Aires the winter of 1963 (days of traditional tangueros courage Piazzolla, blue and red military days in battle), appeared in the bookstores – in silence, without marketing – the first edition of Hopscotch.
Modest coverage: the road between hell and sky through the eleven squares drawn with chalk on sidewalks that the boys jumped on one leg.
Strange explosion: sold out in less than a month. Strange, for a writer had never dared such a challenge: a book that could (or should) be read in a row (page one to side five hundred), or start with two hundred or so or where the reader would like. Explaining her betrays her, but what does that mean?
Oliveira is an Argentine residence in Paris (Julio, maybe?). With La Maga and other friends join Snake Club to discuss long-term life and art. He returns to Buenos Aires and his girlfriend, but the memory of La Maga is indelible. And then, the chaos: newspaper clippings, book notes, pure surrealism, always in search of heaven.
Antinovela so hard to write as to read, which nevertheless ignited as a flood of gunpowder lit by a torch.
Suddenly all the teenagers (or something else: ladies and even good-looking ladies and about thirty years old) said "La Maga is I. I met Julio in Paris, and he was inspired by me".
The newly opened shops and some literary cafes were called Rocamadour: One of the key names in the book.
The usual opportunists – the master's friends – fell without shame: "I was very close to Julio … Julio, with another name, included me in a story", etc.
The only one who did not encounter that fake was the great Abelardo Castillo: "We always treat you and we call each other with our last names". Noblesse guilty to remember him …
It is true imprimatur, besides its translations into thirty languages, it was Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz, who agreed on an indisputable judgment: "It is one of the greatest novels in the twentieth century".
And after more than half a century, it's still in bookstores. By the way, withoutANS: Something very difficult in these drunk times of political and dubious besotellers appeared in the summer "reading on the beach", as some journalistic recommendations say. For who would think to read The metamorphosis (Kafka) or Death in Venice (Thomas Mann) between sessions of bronzer and dive?
Cortázar was born in Belgium by mistake: during a trip by her parents. He served as a general primary school teacher (his only title) in Bolivar, Saladillo and Chivilcoy: full and lone national plain. And then, as a brilliant translator: no wrath, as he did in Spanish, the work of Edgar Allan Poe. He shared the world in good (Cronopios) and bad (Famas). He approached the fantasy genre with mastery. He sowed libraries and readers with inevitable titles: The end of the game, secret weapons, today's return in eighty worlds, the book Manuel…
It is still debating whether he was a better narrator than a novelist, or vice versa: the controversy as idle as it is worthless, as there is no string that he has played with a false note.
Except, according to many critics, when he – undoubtedly by conviction – embraced the cause of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions. For lovers of literary purity, it was their worst step. Not because of the free choice: because the left priests turned him into a red totem, who was always invited to conferences and was forced to acknowledge his profession of political belief in dozens of scenarios that had nothing to do with the literature: the same scene as, during his Last year, Pablo Neruda engages in his poems against imperialism, far from the light years of his best poetry.
Three women followed him from his first days in Paris until his death on February 12, 1984, perhaps with rain over the city, as his last day predicted the great poet. César Vallejo: "I will die in Paris with a cut".
They were Aurora Bernárdez, Ugné Karvelis and Carol Dunlop, where he peered "Faithful mines with big heart" resort to tango which he never forgot.
He did not forget so much that he remedied this little part of tango Hand in hand with a masterful touch: "Rechiflao in my grief / today I urge you and I see that you have been / in my poor pariahiv / a good library".
It is a perfect synthesis of what was from his first child's poem to his last line: a colossal and cruel oneliterary nimal.
And everything else, everything that was away from the keys, the magic qwertyuiopIt was pure anecdote.
From the limestone of Kalken, which was drawn on the street, he reached the sky without hindrance to the eleven squares that prevail.
Just write to the joy of the great world.
Just jump on endless hopscotch in half the planet and hunt for the sky.
For that and nothing else is Hopscotch: an ordered chaos – if oxymoron was possible – of crime, beauty, surprise, Chinese boxes and a great explanation for mediocrity, defeated in the only possible way: with a cocktail of freedom and madness in equal parts … while a bear touch the pipes.