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Historias de cronopios y de famas

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Historias de cronopios y de famas es uno de los libros legendarios del escritor argentino. Postulación de una mirada poética capaz de enfrentar las miserias de la rutina y del sentido común, Cortázar toma aquí partido por la imaginación creadora y el humor corrosivo de los surrealistas. Esta colección de cuentos y viñetas entrañables es una introducción privilegiada al mun Historias de cronopios y de famas es uno de los libros legendarios del escritor argentino. Postulación de una mirada poética capaz de enfrentar las miserias de la rutina y del sentido común, Cortázar toma aquí partido por la imaginación creadora y el humor corrosivo de los surrealistas. Esta colección de cuentos y viñetas entrañables es una introducción privilegiada al mundo inagotable de uno de los más grandes escritores de este siglo y un antídoto seguro contra la solemnidad y el aburrimiento. Sin duda alguna, Cortázar sella un pacto de complicidad definitiva e incondicional con sus lectores.


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Historias de cronopios y de famas es uno de los libros legendarios del escritor argentino. Postulación de una mirada poética capaz de enfrentar las miserias de la rutina y del sentido común, Cortázar toma aquí partido por la imaginación creadora y el humor corrosivo de los surrealistas. Esta colección de cuentos y viñetas entrañables es una introducción privilegiada al mun Historias de cronopios y de famas es uno de los libros legendarios del escritor argentino. Postulación de una mirada poética capaz de enfrentar las miserias de la rutina y del sentido común, Cortázar toma aquí partido por la imaginación creadora y el humor corrosivo de los surrealistas. Esta colección de cuentos y viñetas entrañables es una introducción privilegiada al mundo inagotable de uno de los más grandes escritores de este siglo y un antídoto seguro contra la solemnidad y el aburrimiento. Sin duda alguna, Cortázar sella un pacto de complicidad definitiva e incondicional con sus lectores.

30 review for Historias de cronopios y de famas

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    My piñata is overflowing! Julio, your Cronopios are driving me crazy! Read Julio Cortázar! Transform the gray matter of your brain into a sparkling piñata, especially when reading Julio’s Cronopios and Famas, an assortment of dozens of the most micro of micro-fictions. And not only read, but let your piñata burst with streams of words, glittery, twinkling, flashing -- let your reading of each mini serve as a call to respond, yes, yes, you respond with your own shinny micro. “Give us an example,” My piñata is overflowing! Julio, your Cronopios are driving me crazy! Read Julio Cortázar! Transform the gray matter of your brain into a sparkling piñata, especially when reading Julio’s Cronopios and Famas, an assortment of dozens of the most micro of micro-fictions. And not only read, but let your piñata burst with streams of words, glittery, twinkling, flashing -- let your reading of each mini serve as a call to respond, yes, yes, you respond with your own shinny micro. “Give us an example,” says a tiny Cronopio. “Most certainly,” I reply, as I take the shape of a Fama. “Here are two plus two.” INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO SING (Julio’s) Begin by breaking all the mirrors of the house, let your arms fall to your side, gaze vacantly at the wall, forget yourself. Sing one singe note, listen to it from inside. If you hear (but this will happen much later) something like a landscape overwhelmed with dread, bonfires between the rocks with squatting half-naked silhouettes, I think you’ll be well on your way, and the same if you hear a river, boats painted yellow and black are coming down it, if you hear the smell of fresh bread, the shadow of a horse. Afterwards, buy a manual of voice instruction and a dress jacket, and please, don’t sing through your nose and leave poor Schumann at peace. THE SPEECH (mine) I’m a guest speaker at a banquet. I start delivering my speech. Judging from the audience’s response, not a word of what I say is being understood. I try speaking louder. No luck. I try speaking slower. Once again, not a single word is being understood. I resort to simply moving my lips. The audience sits up and begins to understand. I stop moving my lips and start waving my arms. Everyone nods their head in approval. I stop waving my arms and simply stand there. I receive a round of applause. I remove my eyes, nose and mouth and tuck them in my pants pocket. The audience moves toward the podium – I can hear them – and each member takes a turn embracing me. “We’ve never seen such a speaker,” a deep voice intones. I wiggle my ears as a way of saying thank you. “Really, he utters, “you’ve said enough already. STORY (Julio’s) A small cronopto was looking for the key to the street door on the night table, the night table in the bedroom, the bedroom in the house, the house in the street. Here the cronopio pauses for to go into the street, he needed the key to the door. HEAD GAMES (mine) I woke up, head on the pillow but not anything else. I mean to say that there wasn’t any body attached; I was only head, nothing but head. I turned my head, my only me, and saw one of my arms, the left one, I think, on the bureau and my scrotum hanging on my clothes-tree. I turned my head the other way. My toes rested like ten pale Brazil nuts on the windowsill, the cheeks of my buttocks on the floor, a calf and knee poking out of the pants I threw over a chair last night. I looked up at the ceiling. More of the same: my neck, another leg, thumbs, and, yes, my penis, all dangle from the light cord. By the time I gather myself together and I’m back in one piece, I’m really running late. I open my bedroom door and the rooms of my house and the rest of the neighborhood are scattered on a wide, grassy plain. Now I know I’m really going to be late. THERAPIES ( Julio's) A cronopio receives his medical degree and opens a practice in the calle Santiago del Estero. A patient arrives almost immediately and tells him how there are places that ache and how there are places that ache and how he doesn't sleep at night and eats nothing during the day. --Buy a large bouquet of roses, the cronopio tells him. The patient leaves, somewhat surprised, but he buys the bouquet and is instantly cured. Bursting with gratitude, he returns to the cronopio and not only plays him but, as a delicate testimonial, he presents him with the gift of a handsome bouquet of roses. He has hardly left the office when the cronopio falls ill, aches all over, can't sleep at night, and eats nothing during the day. STRIKE UP THE BAND (mine) Town doctors these days use band instruments for a surgical operation -- implanting brass from trombone, tuba and trumpet to replace stomach, liver and intestines. In the recovery room, its time to strike up the band. Breakfast sounds like John Philip Sousa. Nurses wave flags, visitors toss confetti and the patient in the bed by the wall, who has been bedridden for over a month, gets up and starts marching around the room. TURTLES AND CRONOPIOS (Julio’s) Now it happens that turtles are great speed enthusiasts, which is natural. The esperanzas know that and don’t bother about it. The famas know it, and make fun of it. The cronopios know it, and each time they meet a turtle, they haul out the box of colored chalks, and on the rounded blackboard of the turtle’s shell they draw a swallow. FROG KITES (mine) On sunny Sundays, Billy Boy fills his bullfrogs with helium and uses them for kites. The largest frogs he flies with a piece of cloth tied to one frog leg and string to the other. For the smaller ones, he uses four pieces of balsa wood to stick two frogs together to make a box kite. The frogs can’t croak since Billy seals their mouths closed. By passing gas, however, the frogs eventually run out of helium and glide back to earth slowly, trying to avoid tires of trucks and beaks of storks – and Billy, that naughty boy with his pathological knack for constructing frog kites.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    I think I should yet work at some aspects of my personality to become better cronopio. Unfortunately I observe some fama in me either and at times too much to my liking, sigh. You could say there is nothing wrong with them. Obviously. Famas are tidy and organized and prescient and cautious. And I'd add boooring yet. Cronopios for a change are depicted as sensitive creatures, imaginative, rebellious even, greenish, frizzly, wet objects. You may think what you want now. And there is yet a third ca I think I should yet work at some aspects of my personality to become better cronopio. Unfortunately I observe some fama in me either and at times too much to my liking, sigh. You could say there is nothing wrong with them. Obviously. Famas are tidy and organized and prescient and cautious. And I'd add boooring yet. Cronopios for a change are depicted as sensitive creatures, imaginative, rebellious even, greenish, frizzly, wet objects. You may think what you want now. And there is yet a third category- esperanzas, and they are majority I assume, and one could characterize them as indolent and plain and dull individuals. So if you don't know what type you are please read Turtles and Cronopios: Now it happens that turtles are great speed enthusiasts, which is natural. The esperanzas know that and don’t bother about it. The famas know it, and make fun of it. The cronopios know it, and each time they meet a turtle, they haul out the box of colored chalks, and on the rounded blackboard of the turtle’s shell they draw a swallow. and if you still can't define yourself you can always try Make yourself at home (view spoiler)[An esperanza built a house and plastered up a tile which read: WELCOME ALL WHO COME TO THIS HOME A fama built a house and did not put up a tile in the first place. A cronopio built a house and, following the custom, set into the porch divers tiles which he bought or had made. The tiles were cemented up in such a way that they could be read in order. The first said: WELCOME ALL WHO ENTER THIS HOME The second said: THE HOUSE IS SMALL BUT THE HEART IS IMMENSE The third: THE PRESENCE OF A GUEST IS AS SOFT AS REST The fourth: WE ARE POOR BUT STILL WE HAVE GOOD WILL And the fifth read: THIS ORDINANCE CANCELS ALL PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS BEAT IT! (hide spoiler)] . In the seventies and early eighties of the last century there was a real boom on iberoamerican literature in Poland. One of the contributors for sure was Zofia Chądzyńska, brilliant translator and interpreter, she gave to Polish readers most of Cortazar’s works, including iconic today Hopscotch but also some Borgeses or The Obscene Bird of Night by Donoso. It’s been years I read anything by Julio Cortazar or in wider context by iboeroamerican writers. And I almost forgot how good it feels. Cortazar is imaginative, his stories are weird and funny, I have somewhat strange sense of humour so it helps, I think. Cronopios and famas consists of four parts and these are: The Instruction Manual, Unusual Occupations, Unstable stuff and last section is the title one. Everything is a bit surrealistic even if deadly serious and absurd humour is something I'm particularly very fond of. I liked playfulness there and distorted image of reality, I enjoyed nonsensical apparently instructions how to deal with every day situations like this one on how to climb a staircase(view spoiler)[ To climb a staircase one begins by lifting that part of the body located below and to the right, usually encased in leather or deerskin, and which, with a few exceptions, fits exactly on the stair. Said part set down on the first step (to abbreviate we shall call it “the foot”), one draws up the equivalent part on the left side (also called “foot” but not to be confused with “the foot” cited above), and lifting this other part to the level of “the foot,” makes it continue along until it is set in place on the second step, at which point the foot will rest, and “the foot” will rest on the first. (The first steps are always the most difficult, until you acquire the necessary coordination. The coincidence of names between the foot and “the foot” makes the explanation more difficult. Be especially careful not to raise, at the same time, the foot and “the foot.”) (hide spoiler)] or comb a hair. And here I was thinking I knew something on that matter already. I spent some delightful time with narrator's bizarre family observing how they conduct themselves at wakes or taking a job at post office and I thought I would employ the idea inclosed in The possibilities of abstraction especially while attending some dull work conferences. What? Why not five stars then? Blame that fama in me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    There's no such thing as prose poetry because poetry is writing in short lines; that's the only thing that makes it poetry; if it's not in short lines it's not poetry. That's why I like the directions for microwave pizza. But when people say prose poetry, this is what they mean. I don't always understand what Cortázar's banging on about, but it's pleasant anyway. And it's usually really funny, which is nice. That's also more evidence that it's not poetry: poetry is almost never funny. Poets are w There's no such thing as prose poetry because poetry is writing in short lines; that's the only thing that makes it poetry; if it's not in short lines it's not poetry. That's why I like the directions for microwave pizza. But when people say prose poetry, this is what they mean. I don't always understand what Cortázar's banging on about, but it's pleasant anyway. And it's usually really funny, which is nice. That's also more evidence that it's not poetry: poetry is almost never funny. Poets are writers who are too overwhelmed by angst to write full sentences. Except for the old-timey ones. They had to write in short lines because long ones hadn't been invented yet. It's no coincidence that the guy who invented novels was kidding. • Here are the three paintings referenced on pages 10-13: Sacred Love and Profane Love by Titian The official theme is the bride of the commissioner of the work; Cupid; and Aphrodite. There has been some debate over which of the two women is profane and which sacred. Lady and the Unicorn by Raphael It's unclear who the woman is. In 1958, only four years before the publication of this book, restoration work on the painting revealed that the unicorn was a later modification; the woman was originally holding a dog. If I paint a horn on my dog, will he be a unicorn? Only one way to find out. Henry VIII by Holbein Well, I think Henry VIII was a dick too. • Instructions on how to Climb a Staircase "Be especially careful not to raise, at the same time, the foot and 'the foot.'" (22) Now I want to be an artist who makes impractical staircases. • Given Cortázar's fearful loathing of watches - "They aren't giving you a watch, you are the gift, they're giving you yourself for the watch's birthday" (24) - I'd hate to hear how he might feel about cell phones. • Well, now I'm overthinking the fact that I'm more or less lying on my back. Is this Kafkaesque? Sortof. • "We were not really sure of our ability to lodge a tiger, and that was depressing." (46) Yes! That's what I always say! Borges was pretty sure he couldn't do it. It's unfortunate that this story has never been read by a single Zanesvillian. • I plan to read the story on page 71 several more times. Either there's been a typo, or Cortázar has chosen to replace the title of the story with a paragraph fragment from the previous page, which also seems reasonable. (ETA: It's a publishing mistake. The title of the story is "The End of the World of the End.") • "Established that ants are the true rulers of creation (the reader may take this as hypothesis or as a fantasy; in any case he will do well with a little anthropoescapism)." 80 • While reading Plan for a Poem you should, of course, refer to this image. • Cronopios and Famas, the last section of the book, is typical of the whole. At first you're mystified: many of these are made up words, and the stories seem to lack internal consistency in any case. Before you know it, you find that some of them make sense after all, or else you've made sense of them, like The Public Highways (132) and Story (135). But some of them still don't, and some of them might have if you'd been paying better attention or were more of a cronopio and less of a fama, and some of them are just Cortázar fucking with you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Some of human beings are cronopios and some are famas… There are also esperanzas – they are the silent majority. And if asked I would always choose to be a cronopio because it’s fun – they are by themselves and they don’t conform and being a fama is just a bore. When famas go on a trip, when they pass the night in a city, their procedure is the following: one fama goes to the hotel and prudently checks the prices, the quality of the sheets, and the color of the carpets. The second repairs to the c Some of human beings are cronopios and some are famas… There are also esperanzas – they are the silent majority. And if asked I would always choose to be a cronopio because it’s fun – they are by themselves and they don’t conform and being a fama is just a bore. When famas go on a trip, when they pass the night in a city, their procedure is the following: one fama goes to the hotel and prudently checks the prices, the quality of the sheets, and the color of the carpets. The second repairs to the commissariat of police and there fills out a record of the real and transferable property of all three of them, as well as an inventory of the contents of their valises. The third fama goes to the hospital and copies the lists of the doctors on emergency and their specialties. After attending to these affairs diligently, the travelers join each other in the central plaza of the city, exchange observations, and go to a café to take an apéritif. But before they drink, they join hands and do a dance in a circle. This dance is known as “The Gayety of the Famas.” When cronopios go on a trip, they find that all the hotels are filled up, the trains have already left, it is raining buckets and taxis don’t want to pick them up, either that or they charge them exorbitant prices. The cronopios are not disheartened because they believe firmly that these things happen to everyone. When they manage, finally, to find a bed and are ready to go to sleep, they say to one another, “What a beautiful city, what a very beautiful city!” And all night long they dream that huge parties are being given in the city and that they are invited. The next day they arise very contented, and that’s how cronopios travel. Esperanzas are sedentary. They let things and people slide by them. They’re like statues one has to go visit. They never take the trouble. Enjoy freedom… It is much better to take it easy than to turn one’s life into a timetable…

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    Why do I love Julio Cortázar and, by proxy, 20th-century Latin-American lit so much? Let me count the ways. (Joao Gilberto’s version of “Desafinado”playing…) Ok, I’m done. 3,297 ways. There. My friend, peer, First Among Equals, and all-around Mr. Dynamite to my Mr. Matchstick, Nathan “NR” Gaddis, once advised somewhere/sometime on Goodread(orelse!) that a reader who finds themselves tired of the same old claptrap is advised to head south of the United States’ border for replenishment and a headchan Why do I love Julio Cortázar and, by proxy, 20th-century Latin-American lit so much? Let me count the ways. (Joao Gilberto’s version of “Desafinado”playing…) Ok, I’m done. 3,297 ways. There. My friend, peer, First Among Equals, and all-around Mr. Dynamite to my Mr. Matchstick, Nathan “NR” Gaddis, once advised somewhere/sometime on Goodread(orelse!) that a reader who finds themselves tired of the same old claptrap is advised to head south of the United States’ border for replenishment and a headchange (I paraphrase, obviously). Truer words never spoken, Don Nathan. There was some serious Magick afoot and afield in the minds and pens of my hemispherically-opposite yet also ‘America’d’ brothers and sisters. The rules of European stodge, while inspirational to varying degrees, were merely the base from which these manticores took pan-dimensional flight. Let me try that again. The Latin-American writers of the ‘classic’ period ripped up the Rule Book and made papier-mâché devilmasks out of its leaves. Their panoptical vision and ability to imagine and ensnare an almost pantheistic uni-view remains without precedent or peer. Their unilateral dedication to ground-breaking is as idiosyncratic and natural to each writer's work as the whorls of their fingertips. Taken en masse, the work is peacock feathers; shim-shim-shimmering refractory light dancing off the chiaroscuro of the omni-spectral coloration inherent to their plumes. Cortázar, to me, is the greatest embodiment of this thesis. No one did more to challenge l’académie of convention, nor did so with half the panache. Looking for all the world like a cinema star but blasting emeralds out of his typewriter, Cortázar brought theretofore unheard of components to the contemporary canon: absurdity and humor. And that’s what gets me, the playfulness. The serious subtext festooned with fantastic creatures and truly odd whatsit. Cronopios and Famas is a damning examination and critique of class systems, but—what, with all the groove-heavy Cronopian mutoid shenanigans—you could read it as a bedtime story to your gender-neutrally Christian'd spawn. Name another book that accomplishes that impossible task!* Reader’s Digest: Tip-top of the absolute tippity-toppermost of the pip-pippity-poppermost. *The first person that says Orwell, Animal Farm, or any combination thereof is gonna get shanked. You’ve been warned.

  6. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    I was impressed at the ingenious invention in this selection of weird and innovative stories. Opening with a sequence of what Brian Eno might call oblique strategies for living in ‘Instruction Manual’, on essential topics like ‘Instructions on How to Comb the Hair’ and ‘Instructions on How to Kill Ants in Rome’, the selection moves into slender improvisations of a surreal and fantastic nature, such as ‘The Tiger Lodgers’, a droll rumination of the business of lodging a tiger, to ‘Marvellous Purs I was impressed at the ingenious invention in this selection of weird and innovative stories. Opening with a sequence of what Brian Eno might call oblique strategies for living in ‘Instruction Manual’, on essential topics like ‘Instructions on How to Comb the Hair’ and ‘Instructions on How to Kill Ants in Rome’, the selection moves into slender improvisations of a surreal and fantastic nature, such as ‘The Tiger Lodgers’, a droll rumination of the business of lodging a tiger, to ‘Marvellous Pursuits’, which offers anarchic suggestions for hobbies, to a torn-out extract from an ant-ruled future in ‘Geography’. These stories are terrific for their looseness and sheer sense of play, mixing the scholarly prankishness of Borges with the intellectual impishness of Queneau or Barthelme. The titular final section becomes the most formally experimental, with odd poetic, lyric-like, or playlet pieces zinging from page to page on cronopios (the anarchic folk) and fomas (the cautious folk, not to be confused with Wampeters or Granfalloons). This is a fucking pearl.

  7. 5 out of 5

    knig

    What the deuces is a Cronopio or, for that matter, a Fama? These Latin American countries, theres no end to the trolls and LGMs they’ll concoct: so, is it a chupacabra? An imbunche? a cheesy musical? A play on words from Cronos? No, its Cortazar’s Seussian-like latino simulacras: the Spanish equivalent of Bippo-No-Bungus, the Grinch, Biffer Baums and what nots, and others, except its geared for adults. Important distinction this, because, if you are an adult who likes to vacation in Disneyworld wi What the deuces is a Cronopio or, for that matter, a Fama? These Latin American countries, theres no end to the trolls and LGMs they’ll concoct: so, is it a chupacabra? An imbunche? a cheesy musical? A play on words from Cronos? No, its Cortazar’s Seussian-like latino simulacras: the Spanish equivalent of Bippo-No-Bungus, the Grinch, Biffer Baums and what nots, and others, except its geared for adults. Important distinction this, because, if you are an adult who likes to vacation in Disneyworld without children in tow, then this book may not be for you. This is silly sausages for adults as the Cronopios, Esperanzas and Famas battle it out ad absurdum. Prior to that its essays on the mundane, but through a scanner darkly- no wait, through the looking glass, if you know what I mean.(and I know there is an implication I may have read either of those books, but –natch.) Nothing is as it seems. I learned a few things, btw. Came across a piece on the cassowary, which of course I knew what that was (OK, I had no clue. In my defence, they’re only found in Australia, and I’ve never been there. Nor can I bear to watch Bindi: the Jungle Girl, it just makes me well up and cry and curse stingrays. So, I know nothing about Australia). The cassowary are supposed to be shy. Except, they may not know it. As I was edifying myself on youtube, every post on them in some mode of aerial or ground take no prisoners attack. Take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jB2QF... Moral of the story: one does not mess with the Cassawary. Well, moving swiftly along. I also brushed up on Caracalla. These Roman emperors, I tell you: you couldn’t make up a soap opera as melodramatic and eventful as their real lives. Caracalla is assassinated taking a piss on the road side on his way to yet another massacre in Parthia, by his personal bodyguard Martialis for having executed Martialis’ brother the previous day on an unproven charge. Seriously, would YOU mess with your bodyguards like that? I’d probably have deified Matialis’s brother rather than execute him. Common sense, people! Anyway, that was from Wiki, Cortazar just assumes I’m all educated when he writes. Which I ams, I ams! Divided into three very different parts, I almost chucked this aside because part one just didn’t work for me. Its all silly, of course, but I like my silly served just so, and part one seemed to drag. The last two sections though were absurdum just the way I like it: little exercises in humorous, rare, prime time bizarre-esque, (sometimes even burlesque) with subtle, yet sharp attacks on convention, bourgeoisie and its rules, e.g: ‘My faithful secretary takes care of, or would like to take care of, everything in my office….words, for example, not a day goes by that she doesn’t polish them up, brush them off, she files them in neat orderliness, grooms and readies them for their daily functions. Should an expendable adjective pop out of my mouth-there she is, pencil in hand, to trap and kill it, not even leaving it time to weld itself to the rest of the sentence, and through sloppy habit or neglect, survive.’

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meenaz Lodhi

    One of my best friends told me I am more Cronopia, but have some of Fama too. I guess he’s right!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nate D

    In his struggle against pragmatism and the horrible tendency of reaching useful ends, my eldest cousin proposed the following procedure: to pull from the head a good thick strand of hair, make a knot in the middle of it, and drop it gently down the sink drain.. Should the hair get trapped in the metal grate which used to propagate in such drains, all you have to do is open the faucet a bit and it will disappear for good. Without a moment of hesitation, you must begin the job of recovering the ha In his struggle against pragmatism and the horrible tendency of reaching useful ends, my eldest cousin proposed the following procedure: to pull from the head a good thick strand of hair, make a knot in the middle of it, and drop it gently down the sink drain.. Should the hair get trapped in the metal grate which used to propagate in such drains, all you have to do is open the faucet a bit and it will disappear for good. Without a moment of hesitation, you must begin the job of recovering the hair. Published a year before Hopscotch and after presumably having served as an outlet valve for for whatever exuberant nonsense Cortazar needed to get out of his head but deemed unfit for that more serious work, Cronopios and Famas is a dense, wild explosion of ideas, mundane or insane. The first two sections are essentially perfect. First a set of instructions: into the use of stairs, on how to cry, on the use of a comb, and a slight strange gorgeous poem on the dissection of ground owls (and I, who almost never read poetry). This is beating the surrealists at their own game, stripping the rational veil back from everyday to reveal a chaos of parts and urges and hidden unexpected variation. This continues in the second part, matter-of-fact monologues from a member of a outwardly normal family who bend all convention as a matter of course, defying utility and performing actions with great care purely because they've envisioned them. These two parts, together, are only as bizarre as they are ordinary, and packed with identifiable insights, however strangely packaged. This is fantastic five-star stuff. Either the tiger agrees to be lodged, or it must be lodged in such a way that its acceptance or refusal is of no consequence. This takes us about a third of the book's length; the next two parts get a third each. True to its name, "Unstable Stuff" disintegrates into a kind of notebook of outrageous ideas, varying wildly in style and quality. The best (the bear in the pipes, the art of abstraction) are every bit as good as the earlier material, but it's mostly more in line with the near-free-associative absurdity of someone like Daniil Kharms. Finally, in the closing, title section, a series of slight, exceedingly odd fables about the interactions of Famas, Cronopios, and Esperanzas, indeterminate constructions feeling so new that they seem to have been devised only as they were being written down. Somewhat overwhelming, and I really should have taken my time and read these slower, a few a day, spaced out with other books. But it's good to know that Cortazar can be so playful. ... Previously: This is brilliant. I can't believe Hopscotch steered me away from further Cortazar for an entire year. Jimmy, I'm seeing what you mean about the perfection of Cortazar on a sentence-by-sentence basis, now, too.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    Julio Cortázar - Cronopios and Famas Cortázar turns his rifle against routine; the addiction everyday life brings to small things that we repeat day after day until we die and which are, according to Cortázar, the source of our self-destruction. Now, for a man of routine, like yours truly, this can be a pretty upsetting, if highly entertaining, read. The notions behind the absurd goings-on of the book soaked me to the bone and hit home since I'm at a period where a tendency to reevaluate how I sp Julio Cortázar - Cronopios and Famas Cortázar turns his rifle against routine; the addiction everyday life brings to small things that we repeat day after day until we die and which are, according to Cortázar, the source of our self-destruction. Now, for a man of routine, like yours truly, this can be a pretty upsetting, if highly entertaining, read. The notions behind the absurd goings-on of the book soaked me to the bone and hit home since I'm at a period where a tendency to reevaluate how I spend my free time has already occupied a big chunk of my mind and psychology. Good timing? Sure. But Cronopios and Famas will not sit on your chest like Hopscotch. It's a short and light read, although, in order for the whole of its value to reach the core of the reader, a re-read is mandatory. Apparently, Cortázar won't be leaving my world any time soon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Curtainthief

    The more Cortazar I read, the more convinced I become that I must give Hopscotch another shot.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    I guess the purists will be rather displeased and offended by such comparison, but they must forgive me, for I have been absolutely spoiled by the wide range of pop culture... stuff. So here they are - cronopios y famas Yup. Para tu! De nada! The rest was in the manner of this precious by Monty Python. Surreal, smart and funny, just not HAHA funny. And I wanted HAHA funny. My bad. But in general - quite enjoyable. I guess the purists will be rather displeased and offended by such comparison, but they must forgive me, for I have been absolutely spoiled by the wide range of pop culture... stuff. So here they are - cronopios y famas Yup. Para tu! De nada! The rest was in the manner of this precious by Monty Python. Surreal, smart and funny, just not HAHA funny. And I wanted HAHA funny. My bad. But in general - quite enjoyable.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I finally read this one. Perhaps because I've already read much of his work, but this one seemed underwhelming. There were brilliant bits but also bits that seemed formulaically Cortázarian. This would be a nice primer, because it presents his more playful side, which is the more photogenic side of Cortázar afterall. The thing is that you need this sillier side to enter the serious side, it is the portal through which one finds Cortázar's presumptions to be more stomachable, even appetizing (one I finally read this one. Perhaps because I've already read much of his work, but this one seemed underwhelming. There were brilliant bits but also bits that seemed formulaically Cortázarian. This would be a nice primer, because it presents his more playful side, which is the more photogenic side of Cortázar afterall. The thing is that you need this sillier side to enter the serious side, it is the portal through which one finds Cortázar's presumptions to be more stomachable, even appetizing (one must remember that Cortázar is the kind of guy who will go to unimaginable lengths just to laugh at himself). I really liked the first piece (which I think was untitled), the one about the bear in the pipes, and many of the sillier Cronopios/Famas/Esperanza stuff in the last section. I sometimes wonder why he is so obsessed with these playful categories--maybe he secretly fears that he is a Famas, or even, god-forbid, an Esperanza. The thing is that he is all these things, and more. Did Cortázar set out to have these correspond roughly with the id, the ego, and the superego? Cronopios is definitely the id, the other two I'm not sure. I see the ego as the esperanza and the superego as the famas, but these are not as clear-cut. Cortázar's writing is, in itself, the prime example of the battle of these forces. He wants above all to be the instinctual writer, the one who circumambulates logic, who goes directly to the reader's baby-understanding. Naturally he achieves this as he is a born writer. One reads his sentences as if walking through the fecundity of continuous parks. Yet at the same time he cannot overcome his tendency for logic and order, especially when it breaks down in structure, or when it seems paradoxical. This is a form of paring back that acts against his nature, i.e. to prose playfully and without restraint. Structure and play create slightly opposing armies and sometimes this is a self destructive battle, as in most of his short stories, in which I feel the balance goes towards the structure despite the great prose. But sometimes, as in most of his novels, the balance is just right, and the battle rages on.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    I'm not crazy about Cortazar - he misses the mark as often as he hits it in my opinion, especially with his short stories, which I (so far) find too hazy and directionless. That said, I enjoyed this one. It's fun. It's off the wall. It's vivid. It's unique. As to the general cult that's grown up around him, I have the strong feeling that I would understand it much better if I were able to read Spanish. In an interview I read recently Cortazar speaks of composing his stories in something like the I'm not crazy about Cortazar - he misses the mark as often as he hits it in my opinion, especially with his short stories, which I (so far) find too hazy and directionless. That said, I enjoyed this one. It's fun. It's off the wall. It's vivid. It's unique. As to the general cult that's grown up around him, I have the strong feeling that I would understand it much better if I were able to read Spanish. In an interview I read recently Cortazar speaks of composing his stories in something like the manner of a jazz soloist. OK great, but that's got to be hell to translate. As to the big one, Hopscotch, it had its moments, and on re-reading who knows, maybe it'll hit me with twice the force. But for now I'll give Cronopios... pride of place on my virtual shelf, because it seems like pop anarchy from someone who could really give a f**k - a kind of cartoon punk for poets that the world needs much more of.

  15. 5 out of 5

    christopher leibow

    Truely wonderful, reminded me of Inivisible Cities even though it is nothing like invisible cities. Tender, surreal and just beautiful. a Joyful work.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Great flash fiction/absurdisms from Julio, in lighter and wackier mode than normal.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeppe Lauridsen

    Sprudlende tekster! Cortazar skriver umådeligt godt om komplet dagligdags ting, fx INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO CLIMB A STAIRCASE, som begynder: "No one will have failed to observe that frequently the floor bends in such a way that one part rises at a right angle to the plane formed by the floor and then the following section arranges itself parallel to the flatness, so as to provide a step to a new perpendicular, a process which is repeated in a spiral or in a broken line to highly variable elevation Sprudlende tekster! Cortazar skriver umådeligt godt om komplet dagligdags ting, fx INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO CLIMB A STAIRCASE, som begynder: "No one will have failed to observe that frequently the floor bends in such a way that one part rises at a right angle to the plane formed by the floor and then the following section arranges itself parallel to the flatness, so as to provide a step to a new perpendicular, a process which is repeated in a spiral or in a broken line to highly variable elevations." Tænk, at beskrivelsen af en trappe kan få én til at trække på smilebåndet! Og så er der de kære famaer, kronoper og esperanzaer, de mærkelige, nuttede blopper. Tag fx denne lille STORY: "A small cronopio was looking for the key to the street door on the night table, the night table in the bedroom, the bedroom in the house, the house in the street. Here the cronopio paused, for to go into the street, he needed the key to the door." Ha! Og det er jo alt sammen i en højere sags tjeneste, al den sjov. Den kære Cortazar opsummerer det fint i begyndelsen: "The job of having to soften up the brick every day, the job of cleaving a passage through the glutinous mass that declares itself to be the world(...) Drive the head like a reluctant bull through the transparent mass at the center of which we take a coffee with milk" Se, hvad der sker! Ud kommer de, kronoper, famaer og esperanzaer, som konfekt fra en piñata!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    Perhaps because of the title and a misleading summary, I was hoping for something along the lines of "Gargantua and Pantagruel." I was hoping, at least, for a character or two, since my version of "Cronopios and Famas" does not indicate anywhere that it is a collection of briefly explored ideas that could have become the seeds of short stories or could perhaps have been condensed into poems (prose or otherwise) with proper attention. This is more of a humorist's assembly than anything else. If yo Perhaps because of the title and a misleading summary, I was hoping for something along the lines of "Gargantua and Pantagruel." I was hoping, at least, for a character or two, since my version of "Cronopios and Famas" does not indicate anywhere that it is a collection of briefly explored ideas that could have become the seeds of short stories or could perhaps have been condensed into poems (prose or otherwise) with proper attention. This is more of a humorist's assembly than anything else. If you feel the need to read it, out of loyalty to Cortazar or for some other reason unconnected to its merits, keep it by the toilet. Reading it all at once can only be a disappointment. But, my actual suggestion would be that you don't read this book, certainly that you don't read the section of the book that justifies the title. Check out Francis Ponge if you want thought-provoking, outsider prose poems, or Isadore Ducasse if you want absurd, poetic short stories. On the shear strength of "Autonauts of the Cosmoroute" I will continue to search for another Cortazar book that I like; but this stinker really lowered my hopes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ronald

    _Cronopios and Famas_ by Julio Cortazar has a family resemblance to works by Italo Calvino: light fantasies written in a "experimental" form. The book has four main sections. In each section are stories and vignettes usually between 1-3 pages. I take the theme of the book to be: the siege upon the routine, the cliche, the hackneyed. Many times the book is humorous. Writing something funny is not easy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE

    My favorite 'Latin American' writer. Probably a ridiculous category given how many people that includes, etc, but I use it anyway for simplicity's sake. I've read everything I can find by him. & just when I thought I'd read it all, I found something I'd never seen before. My favorite 'Latin American' writer. Probably a ridiculous category given how many people that includes, etc, but I use it anyway for simplicity's sake. I've read everything I can find by him. & just when I thought I'd read it all, I found something I'd never seen before.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    I'm simultaneously bewildered and amused.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thistle

    I mentioned before that I read this book because one night, during my dreams, the title of a book kept creeping in, and it seemed that over seventy mentions of the title "Cronopios y famas" kept showing up on dinner napkins, book jackets, calling over loudspeakers. When I woke up, I found the book, and immediately started reading it. Does that sound bizarre? It is - and it's also in keeping with this strange, quirky, jaunty excursion of joy and disrespect into the wonderful imagination of Argenti I mentioned before that I read this book because one night, during my dreams, the title of a book kept creeping in, and it seemed that over seventy mentions of the title "Cronopios y famas" kept showing up on dinner napkins, book jackets, calling over loudspeakers. When I woke up, I found the book, and immediately started reading it. Does that sound bizarre? It is - and it's also in keeping with this strange, quirky, jaunty excursion of joy and disrespect into the wonderful imagination of Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar. It is divided into four sections: 1. Instruction Manual 2. Unusual Occupations 3. Unstable Stuff 4. Cronopios and Famas The Instruction Manual offers strange advice for activities like Singing, Climbing Stairs, Being Afraid, or Combing Hair. After reading these alternate-reality advice columns, you will never look at a young child again without thinking, "With young children, let the air comb their hair." My favorite section was the second section, "Unusual Occupations." Whether the family in these little vignettes are actually based upon Cortázar's family, I cannot say, but even if they are not, I am happy that somewhere in the universe - whether the practical universe or the one of the imagination - there is a family that conspires together to build a workable gallows in their garden, house a tiger, or show up at funeral wakes and steal the show and offer the funeral eulogies for those departed that are not sincerely mourned. "Cronopios and Famas" and their apathetic Type-B counterparts, the "Esperanzas," are now world-famous, apparently, and you can find out all about these mythical creatures anywhere in a reference book or online. I think it's wonderful what one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda, said about this author (and especially this book): "Anyone who doesn't read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who has never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and, probably, little by little, he would lose his hair." Keep your hair; read the book in short, joyful snatches. I inhaled it, and I need to read it again and again. Just because I once dreamed it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Salty Swift

    It's all fun and games until a Cronopio loses an eye....

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hind

    "And the gestures of love, that gentle museum, that gallery of figures of smoke. Let your vanity console itself: Mark Antony’s hand sought what your hand seeks. And neither his nor yours was seeking anything that has not been found since eternity. But invisible things need to materialize themselves, ideas fall to earth like dead pigeons. The genuinely new creates either fear or wonderment. These two sensations equally close to the stomach always accompany the presence of Prometheus; the rest is "And the gestures of love, that gentle museum, that gallery of figures of smoke. Let your vanity console itself: Mark Antony’s hand sought what your hand seeks. And neither his nor yours was seeking anything that has not been found since eternity. But invisible things need to materialize themselves, ideas fall to earth like dead pigeons. The genuinely new creates either fear or wonderment. These two sensations equally close to the stomach always accompany the presence of Prometheus; the rest is convenience or profit, that which always comes off more or less well; active verbs contain the whole repertory." This will need to be read again because I feel like it's a book that sort of ages like wine in the cellar of the mind. A wonderful, and a light but not so light read. Cortázar will always take you places you've never thought existed. His literally allure is irresistible.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fherp Hernández

    It's the first time ever that I read something by Master Cortazar. The result was interestingly shocking. This guy is mad and his imagination has limitless. Shorts stories filled by a rich narrative with soul. The first impression is valuable... and he wins a new potencial reader.

  26. 5 out of 5

    82Shimmer15♫

    Letter to a Young Lady in Paris (not included in this book) is by Julio Cortázor and is about a guy writing a letter to his girl, but is staying at another girl’s house and he vomits up bunnies. He later kills the bunnies by dropping them off the balcony and does the same to himself. The Loss and Recovery of the Hair tells about dropping a strain of hair down the drain and being able to recover it. It tells all the different things you have to go through to recover it. Continuity of Parks follow Letter to a Young Lady in Paris (not included in this book) is by Julio Cortázor and is about a guy writing a letter to his girl, but is staying at another girl’s house and he vomits up bunnies. He later kills the bunnies by dropping them off the balcony and does the same to himself. The Loss and Recovery of the Hair tells about dropping a strain of hair down the drain and being able to recover it. It tells all the different things you have to go through to recover it. Continuity of Parks follows a short story of a guy who is reading a book about a girl who is having an affair on her husband. The story soon turns to show she tells the guy to kill her husband which so happens to be him. The perspective of each of these stories changes greatly. With the first story, the guy seems innocent and you can’t help but feel pity for him, but that change to me after he decides to commit suicide and kill the rabbits. The second story doesn’t seem to change much in perspective, but goes more into depth about collecting the hair. My favorite, Continuity of Parks, first started out with the guy, but quickly switches to the story he is reading; a big twist with the plot when his story becomes the real deal. The stories change at unknown moments and can be a bit confusing. When you put a lot of thought into them, you shall be able to understand them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruben

    Este librito ha crecido en mi mente después de haberlo terminado. Hay muchas secciones que ni puedo empezar a explicar, pero ahora creo que las entiendo en otra manera. Las más sencillas me gustan más; las secciones que se tratan de los cronopios y famas están tan allá de mi conocimiento que no las puedo apreciar suficientemente. Seguramente lo recomiendo a todos, porque es completamente excepcional. Mis cuentos favoritos son “Preámbulo a las instrucciones para darle cuerda al reloj” y “Tía en d Este librito ha crecido en mi mente después de haberlo terminado. Hay muchas secciones que ni puedo empezar a explicar, pero ahora creo que las entiendo en otra manera. Las más sencillas me gustan más; las secciones que se tratan de los cronopios y famas están tan allá de mi conocimiento que no las puedo apreciar suficientemente. Seguramente lo recomiendo a todos, porque es completamente excepcional. Mis cuentos favoritos son “Preámbulo a las instrucciones para darle cuerda al reloj” y “Tía en dificultades.” I’ve grown to appreciate this little book more in the weeks since I finished it. There were many parts I didn’t get, but I can appreciate all of it for its creativity and uniqueness. The biggest problem for me was that at times it felt more like Cortázar was merely exercising his surrealism than telling us something meaningful about life. My favorite stories were “Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch” and “Aunt in trouble”. It’s definitely been a good introduction to Julio Cortázar, and I’d like to read more of his work in the future.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This is a wonderfully odd little collection of half things. The delightful instruction manuals, the weird family recollections, everything he writes about comes out of this wonderfully playful style. I kind of wish some of these would have sustained for a bit longer, just to how he would have developed them, but Cortazar is able to weave his usual stylistic charm even with fictions that are just a paragraph long. A short, easy read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    Perhaps I was just not in the mood,but these short pieces,revealing the most playful Cortazar,and maybe even the most creepy,did not really interest me that much. If it werent Cortazar,wouldnt have bothered.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Travis McGuire

    Hilarious. Like a child's book for adults if such a thing were to exist. Like all Julio Cortazar's stuff, this is superbly written and identifiable even the most outlandish and ridiculous parts. A refreshing read.

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