Book Review: Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

Hopscotch (1966) by Julio Cortázar is my Around the World for a Good Book selection for Argentina. It’s also a very complex novel following in a trend started by Gate of the Sun and Billiards at Half-Past Nine. I need to start reading pulp novels and mind candy from around the world. Hopscotch is particularly challenging in that it is the ultimate hypertext in that you can read it straight through chapters 1-59 (discarding the expendable chapters) , read it in a jumbled order of chapters prescribed by the author, or in any order the reader likes. I tried the second method until my innate need for linearity took over and I read 1-59 “with a clean conscience”.

The novel follows Horacio Oliveira as he wanders around Paris obsessing over his lover La Maga. Horacio and his friends have deep philosophical conversations about love, art, jazz, and literature. Many chapters are pure dialog and philosophical meandering. There’s lots of random sex and misery and one point a child dies tragically. Horacio returns to Buenos Aires and works a series of odd jobs including a circus and mental institution. Horacio falls for a woman who is a double for La Maga and slowly goes mad himself.

That’s the basic gist, but wow is this a complex novel. It’s beautiful and thoughtfully written but I just don’t get it.

Author: Cortázar, Julio.
Title: Hopscotch. Translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa.
Publication: Info. New York, Pantheon Books [1966]
Description: 564 p. 22 cm.