Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortazar (1963, Pantheon; 578 pages)
Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves "the Club." A child's death and La Maga's disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum.
I remember the evening I found this book in the Literature section of my college library. I went home, started reading, and didn't stop until dawn. It was one of the most exciting and fabulous reading experiences of my life. Rayuela, or Hopscotch in English, a novel by Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar, is a stream-of-consciousness novel, and it can be read according to two different sequences of chapters. Cortazar wrote the book in Paris and the first chapter sequence takes you to that city. The author referred to this novel as a counter-novel. He used a punning interior monologue and he also uses different languages. It is clearly written under the influence of the aesthetics of jazz (a music that Cortazar loved) and the New Wave Cinema. The characters in Rayuela are absolute jewels. You will never forget La Maga or Horacio Oliveira, a bohemian, in the first sequences, or Talita and Traveler in Book 2, which takes the reader to Argentina. This book is reminiscent of the writing of James Joyce. It is a piece of literature that is fundamental to anyone who wants to call themselves well-read.
Find this title in our catalog: Hopscotch (Rayuela)
Recommended by: Maite
Loop's Progress by Chuck Rosenthal (Harper & Row, 1987; 233 pages)
An uproarious, hilarious, crazy, philosophical family history set in the 1940s and '50s in a decaying working-class neighborhood in Erie, Pa. This is the first book in the Loop Trilogy (followed by the equally brilliant Experiments With Life and Deaf and Loop's End). Narrated by teen-aged Jarvis Loop in a narrative that loops and winds with the elliptical, magical realistic brilliance of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the laugh-out-loud logic of John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces, this may well be the funniest book you ever read. The cast of characters include Red, Jarvis' larger-than-life father who terrorizes his family and neighbors out of sheer contrariness; Jarvis' mother, Helen, who keeps a menagerie of religious statuary around the house; Neda, his 300-pound genius sister who devours books as fast as she does chocolate; and an entire neighborhood filled with memorable oddballs and nutjobs. This is a book that will stay with you and leave a mark.
Order this title through Interlibrary Loan: Loop's Progress
Recommended by: Greg