The End of the Game

This one’s about one of my favorite authors written a few years ago when I was studying Management in Cebu.

Finally! I finished reading End of the Game and Other Stories, a collection of fifteen short stories by the Argentine author Julio Cortazar. Started reading the book (but always only in the library, which is one of the reasons why it took so long) earlier this year but wasn’t able to touch it during summer (there goes another reason). Some fantastic stuff, like much of Latin American literature, though not in the vein of the much-imitated style of Garcia Marquez.

  • “Axolotl,” is about a boy who obsessively observed the axolotls in a public zoo’s aquarium interchangeably told from the vantage point of both the boy and the axolotl.
  • “House Taken Over” tells the story of an elderly couple being slowly overtaken from their home and finally shoved out of the house by an unnamed force.
  • In “The Idol of the Cyclades,” the discovery of an ancient statuette by an odd threesome unleashes a cycle of obsession that ends in ritual violence.
  • “A Yellow Flower” deals with the question of life and death as a middle-aged man by chance meets a thirteen-year old boy resembling himself when he was younger.
  • “Continuity of Parks” is a very short story of a man who reading a novel, finds himself in the very same novel.
  • “The Night Face Up,” one of my favorites in the collection, blurs the line between dream and reality when in his sleep, a man hospitalized due to a motorcycle accident, dreams of being captured by Aztecs hunting for human sacrifices. (Or was it the Indian running from his Aztec captors who dreamt of ending in a motorcycle accident?)
  • “The Gates of Heaven” is about a grieving lawyer who sees the double of his recently deceased wife – a former dancer – in a bar.
  • “Blow-Up” gives the account of a photographer who without permission takes a shot of an older woman and a young man embracing in a public place and his obsession with this photo.
  • “At Your Service”: The help of an old woman is taken by an upper-class family to mind the pet dogs in a grand party, after which her services are again taken to impersonate the mother of a kinless dead gentleman for the funeral.
  • The longest story in the collection, “The Pursuer,” is about a music critic’s recollections of his encounters with a friend who is a celebrated but drug crazed schizophrenic jazz player with a pitiable personal life whose music is the subject of the critic’s bestselling book.
  • In “End of the Game,” three children play a game beside the railway where they act as if they were statues and enact attitudes to the curiosity of the passengers of passing trains. ■


    1. Brief reply: Perhaps in the sense that these are all so surreal? Or that both play with the notions of time and point of view?

      On another level, they are different in the way Borges’ fictions tends to be more philosophical while Cortazar has a more, albeit often open-ended, socio-political bent.

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