Julio Cortazar, We Love Glenda So Much
translated by Gregory Rabassa
We Love Glenda So Much is an advanced course of Cortazar. In Blow-Up, his earlier book of stories, even as he performed dazzling feats, he provided footholds (mind-holds?) for the uncertain reader. Cortazar, the magician, still checked to see that you were keeping up. Those are dazzling stories, brilliant, accessible and you can still kinda see how he got there, leaping from Borges and Poe. Not so with these stories. Sit up straight, pour yourself strong coffee, and steel yourself to be discomfited and unnerved. The stories contained in We Love Glenda So Much are dense and demanding and they often succeed in portraying the way a story arises from the bewildering whirl of consciousness -- at least in the mind of a genius.
If you loved Blow-Up and Hopscotch, by all means seek these stories out -- but don’t start here. Or, wait -- I think I found a litmus test. If you find the rewards and richness of the following paragraph worthwhile, then you need this book. (I am in love with this paragraph. It’s so beautiful and so impossible, that it’s almost downright nuts.) The following is from “Moebius Strip”, a story about rape and murder, which is also an assault on the nature of consciousness, as well as on relative and ultimate reality:
“Different, perhaps from the very beginning, in any case not there, becoming like something diaphanous, a translucent medium in which nothing had a body and where what had been her wasn’t located through thoughts or objects, to be wind while being Janet or Janet being wind or water or space but always clear, the silence was light or the opposite or both things, time was illuminated and that was to be Janet, something without a handle, without the slightest shadow of memory to interrupt and fix that course as among crystals, a bubble inside a mass of Plexiglas, the orbit of a transparent fish in a limitless lighted aquarium.”