Cronopios And Famas Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into four main sections, each of which is further subdivided into several short pieces. The first section, "The Instruction Manual," contains such pieces as "Instructions on How to Cry" and "Instructions on How to Climb a Staircase." Cortazar invites us to look at everyday things and actions from a radically altered perspective; in the process, he seems to point towards an occult, or metaphysical, wisdom.
The second section, "Unusual Occupations," details the antics of a bizarre family (think TV's "Addams Family" as drawn by Dr. Seuss, with input from Franz Kafka). The third section, "Unstable Stuff," is the most varied and chaotic section of the book, and is rich in fantastic and absurd elements.
The final section of the book has the same title as the entire book: "Cronopios and Famas." In several short vignettes Cortazar draws a portrait of an alternate society populated by three different types (races? castes? species?) of beings: Cronopios, Famas, and Esperanzas.Read more ›
But to be original, I'd like to add that the translation could be a lot better. The stye is quite ambivalent, attempting to anglicize place names in some stories and going back to the original Spanish in others. What point is there in mentioning "The Barrio Pacifico" alongside "Humboldt Street"? Give us either "The suburb of Pacifico" or "The Calle Humboldt". Why "Calle Serrano" and not "Serrano Street"? General Custer incongruously shows up in one of the stories too, which is a bit jarring. The result is all too often a mishmash of tones and styles which is confusing and not even good English. What the heck is "gifting" anyway? Why not use the more normal (and far less pretentious) "giving"?
Furthermore, the translator seems to have a complete lack of understanding of Spanish genders. He tends to get male and female genders and the occasional noun confused. Such carelesness is a pity. In the original Spanish the Esperanzas are clearly female and not male as Mr. Blackburn seems to think. His understanding of Argentine Spanish ("Castellano") is somewhat vague, which is also a pity: a great deal of Cortàzar's charm lay in his ear for ordinary everyday speech which introduces a note of sane humanity into the weirdest of his tales.
To be fair, translating Cortàzar is NOT an easy task. It'd be a real job for footnotes.Read more ›
Through this series of short anecdotes, myths, and "instructions", Cortazar succeeds in satirizing (undermining) the traditional concepts of work, family, and social customs. His original and fascinating observations make this book entertaining as well.
I first read Paul Blackburn's translation of this book five years ago, the humor was so absorbing and endearing that barely twenty pages into the book I was willing to declare it a favorite of mine; now, having read it for the third time, it is no less astonishing. I recommend it to anyone with a taste for absurd literary humor.
I read this book on a regular basis, mostly in short pieces. It is written in short chapters, so even when you are too tired to read anything else, this will cheer you up.
Recommended for all conoisseurs of inventive and experimental literature.
Most recent customer reviews
Years ago I heard readings from this book on KPFK, and was quite impressed ( enough so to keep the tape for some 40 years) What a treat to find that it is available in paperback. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2003
This book will open your mind like it or not. The great writing style serves to seduce you as it works on you. Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2002 by That one person