from my bookshelf: hopscotch by julio cortazar


horacio oliveira’s story begins in paris and focuses on his mistress and close group of friends. in paris, oliveria and his tight circle spend endless hours drinking, debating, and philosophizing. oliveira’s simple and frivolous life takes a turn when his mistress disappears and he relocates to buenos aires, where he experiences new work, friends, adventures, and perspective on life.


“She would smile and show no surprise, convinced as she was, the same as I, that casual meetings are apt to be just the opposite, and that people who make dates are the same kind who need lines on their writing paper, or who always squeeze up from the bottom on a tube of toothpaste.”

“There was no use asking himself what he was doing there at that time and with that group, those dear friends strangers still yesterday and tomorrow, people who were but a fleeting episode in place and time.”

“La Maga looked surprised, in the shadows she looked at everybody in succession and then reached for a cigarette on the table, groping around as if she wanted to get out of something she didn’t understand, something like a dream.”

“It had been some time since Gregorovius had given up the illusion of understanding things, but at any rate, he still wanted misunderstandings to have some sort of order, some reason about them.”

“From the other side of the archway there came some snoring that smelled of garlic and cauliflower and cheap forgetfulness; biting his lip, Oliveira stumbled into the corner and settled himself as comfortably as possible against the wall, close to Emmanuele who was already sucking on the bottle and snorting with satisfaction after every gulp. Untrain the senses, open your mouth and nose wide and take in the worst of smells, human funkiness.”

“‘You’re looking for that thing called harmony, but you’re looking for it precisely in the place where you just said it didn’t exist, between friends, in the family, in the city. Why are you looking for it in social organisms?'”

“‘I don’t need it, but I like to have the books I like close to me.”