My favorite Cortazar short story is "The Southern Thruway" with its hilariously dry epigraph:
Sweltering motorists do not seem to have a history...As a reality a traffic jam is impressive, but it doesn't say much.-Arrigo Benedetti, L'Espresso, Rome, 6.21.64
Cortazar reminds me of Kafka and Nabokov, Calvino and of course Borges, but also of an author who came after him Antonio Tabucchi who also writes strange stories.
Cortazar like these others is known for being a fabulist, an inventor of worlds, and he is, but what makes any fiction wonderful is how true it is. Sometimes the fantastic is a more direct route to the real nature of reality than is the more obvious realist one. Thats not to say Cortazar writes sci fi but just that he always approaches the world in a way that is surprising and so he renders the ordinary extraordinary better even than those that I mentioned along side of him. Some of the stories are light and some dark and they all have the allure of upsetting the normal flow of things which we know as reality, at which time the curious begin to question the nature of that reality and perhaps in their questioning begin to search among the wreckage of the old reality for a different kind of order, one that no one had previously thought existed. What better task is there for an author or reader than to search for new realities?
Originally published in 1966, English edition 1973.