`` A short story can be taken in at a single glance while a work of three hundred pages depends on padding, on pages that are mere nexuses between one part and another. On the other hand, it is possible for everything to appear essential in a short story.''
- Jorge Luis Borges.
Besides being considered among the great modern Latin American authors, Cortazar is also a poet, translator and an amateur jazz musician. This collection of short stories provides us a glimpse of his fertile imagination.
In one story the protagonist's mind gets trapped into a fish's body, much like Kafka's `Metamorphosis'. In `Blow-up', a photograph assumes real life proportions, reminiscent of Poe's fantastic works. The `Letter to a Young Lady in Paris' conveys the perplexity of a young woman who vomits up rabbits. `Continuity of Parks' is a Borgesian tale where the protagonist becomes part of the murder mystery he is reading.
`` In literature it is only necessary to outline the steps. Let the people dance.'' says Anthony Kerrigan in preface to `Ficciones'. This collection is one such piece of literature. His other important work is `Hopscotch'. Along with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie, he can claim to be the author of some of the best pieces of magic realism.
There is always something weird at the heart of the stories in this book, although Cortazar rarely plants his foot firmly in the supernatural (When he does it is always unconventionally, as in the bizarre story 'Letter to a Young Lady in Paris', ). There's a feel of Borges ' not just because Cortazar is Argentinian ' for example in 'A Yellow Flower' in which a man thinks he has come across his own reincarnation and does something he lives to regret. Also, perhaps, a feel of Robert Aickman. The later, longer stories, that make up the second half of the book are more realistic, and are mostly set in and around 60s Paris. 'The Pursuer' is about a Jazz genius who is, I think, based on Charlie Parker. 'Blow-Up' is probably the best story in the book, though ' and it is much stranger (and better) than the film Antonioni based on it.
Julio Cortazar is probably one of the best writers of short fiction! I found a collection of his writing by accident years ago while looking through the latin american writers (I was obsessed with Gabriel Garcia Marquez.) I think that anyone would find his haunting characters and facinating story lines to be some of the most compelling in modern literature. His stories are what I believe would happen if Ray bradbury were to write as beautifully and as mysteriously as J. D. Salinger.