The Voyage Book Group will be meeting July 28th at 5pm at BookPeople in Austin, TX. All are welcome.
It’s not like we haven’t done this before. It’s not like we haven’t read tough books in the past. In fact, we read one last month. We began, almost five years ago, with Cormac McCarhty’s Blood Meridian, and it was awesome. We’ve read Calvino for goodness sakes. So why does Hopscotch feel so different? Why do I think this book will be the biggest challenge we face as a group? I’m only… wait, how many pages am I in?… I can’t really tell… Maybe 70 pages? Maybe 30 pages? Because I’m taking the nonlinear model of reading the novel, I can’t even tell what page I’m on. Crazy, right?
Here’s a few reasons why I am feeling particularly challenged by this book, and why I hope you’ll take the challenge with me. I want to understand something about this book, but I’m gonna need your help.
-The book is long. With Bolano’s By Night in Chile and Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the reader is able to see an end, and it comforted me in that I would be able to get to the end while still feeling the beginning. I was going to be able to figure out the problem after I had all of the information. Hopscotch’s length forces me to make some decisions about how to read the text (literally) while still in the first third of the novel.
-The book takes a lot of vagaries. Not that they don’t all fit into the larger idea (if a larger idea exists), but love affairs mix with gold dusted dried leaves mixed with philosophy and poetry and Paris and odd names and strict, youthful ideologies, and the whole thing leaves you exhausted. After finishing off a few chapters, I feel like I’ve been digging holes in my backyard.
-The narration is varied. The first person narrator is sometimes telling a story, sometimes lamenting, sometimes pontificating. The third person narrator sharply contrasts everything the first person does, and throws off your rhythm. The back end stories have a different style than the front end chapters. The punctuation is random.
-At least at the beginning, the plot moves slow. Not much happens. This makes it hard for me, who already can’t tell where I physically am in the book, to find where I am in the arc of the novel. How is change happening? Are these things important? What the hell Cortazar?!?!?
As you can tell, I’m engaged and excited about this book. I won’t go into anything else, but this post is, hopefully, a way to get you to pick up the book if you haven’t already.
How much fun is this stuff? Seriously, this is gonna be a blast.