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Todos los fuegos el fuego offers eight great examples of the creative fullness that encompasses Cortazar's stories. From the exasperated metaphor of human relationships that is "La autopista del sur" through the masterpiece that is "El otro cielo," Cortazar once again paves the way to stories that are a must-read for lovers of the story genre in general. "La salud de los e Todos los fuegos el fuego offers eight great examples of the creative fullness that encompasses Cortazar's stories. From the exasperated metaphor of human relationships that is "La autopista del sur" through the masterpiece that is "El otro cielo," Cortazar once again paves the way to stories that are a must-read for lovers of the story genre in general. "La salud de los enfermos," "Reunión," "La señorita Cora," "La isla a mediodía," "Instrucciones para John Howell," and "Todos los fuegos el fuego" are a celebration of intelligence, passion, and genius.


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Todos los fuegos el fuego offers eight great examples of the creative fullness that encompasses Cortazar's stories. From the exasperated metaphor of human relationships that is "La autopista del sur" through the masterpiece that is "El otro cielo," Cortazar once again paves the way to stories that are a must-read for lovers of the story genre in general. "La salud de los e Todos los fuegos el fuego offers eight great examples of the creative fullness that encompasses Cortazar's stories. From the exasperated metaphor of human relationships that is "La autopista del sur" through the masterpiece that is "El otro cielo," Cortazar once again paves the way to stories that are a must-read for lovers of the story genre in general. "La salud de los enfermos," "Reunión," "La señorita Cora," "La isla a mediodía," "Instrucciones para John Howell," and "Todos los fuegos el fuego" are a celebration of intelligence, passion, and genius.

30 review for Todos los fuegos el fuego

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    Eight stories with a touch of magical realism, like his countryman Borges. Cortazar was born in Argentina, but like so many other Latin American authors, left for Paris in his late thirties and died there in 1984. In the title story, two stories are juxtaposed: scenes of a Roman gladiator fighting for his life in an arena with modern scenes from a man on the phone with his wife, girlfriend at his side. Both stories end in conflagrations. Another story starts with a week-long traffic jam in Paris. Eight stories with a touch of magical realism, like his countryman Borges. Cortazar was born in Argentina, but like so many other Latin American authors, left for Paris in his late thirties and died there in 1984. In the title story, two stories are juxtaposed: scenes of a Roman gladiator fighting for his life in an arena with modern scenes from a man on the phone with his wife, girlfriend at his side. Both stories end in conflagrations. Another story starts with a week-long traffic jam in Paris. As food runs short and some older folks die without medical help, people start to re-create society. They organize themselves into local tribes; some help others and share their food; others steal and sell for profit. A family conspires to keep the news of the death of a brother from their elderly, critically ill mother. They think they succeed so well that they end up fooling themselves more than the mother. A band of brothers fight in the Spanish Civil War; their comradery and feeling for each other offers some solace from what will be futility as the enemy closes in around them. A young married nurse falls in love with a much younger, awkward boy who is terminally ill. An airline steward flies over the Mediterranean each day and becomes obsessed with a certain island he repeatedly sees from the air. He quits his job, moves to the island and experiences tragedy. A man continues to seek the company of a prostitute even after he has become engaged. He offers her protection from a serial killer preying on the night women. When the killer is caught and he is ready to marry and be faithful, he sees a life of emptiness ahead of him. A man in a theater is pulled out of the audience and forced to play a part in a stage drama. He goes along with the expected role for the first act but he ad-libs in later acts with dire consequences. Pretty good stories but not up to those of the master.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Julio Cortázar and his cat. Photo taken in the early 1960s when Julio was living in Paris. An outstanding collection of eight short stories by one of the giants of 20th century literature – Argentina’s Julio Cortázar. In their own way, each story is a gem, with such titles as The Southern Thruway and the title piece, All Fires the Fire. Below is my write-up of one of the stories that really hit home for me. Spoiler alert: my analysis is of the entire story, beginning to end. THE ISLAND AT NOON Ove Julio Cortázar and his cat. Photo taken in the early 1960s when Julio was living in Paris. An outstanding collection of eight short stories by one of the giants of 20th century literature – Argentina’s Julio Cortázar. In their own way, each story is a gem, with such titles as The Southern Thruway and the title piece, All Fires the Fire. Below is my write-up of one of the stories that really hit home for me. Spoiler alert: my analysis is of the entire story, beginning to end. THE ISLAND AT NOON Overwhelming Humdrum: “The first time he saw the island, Marini was politely leaning over the seats on the left, adjusting a plastic table before setting a lunch tray down.” Julio’s opening line of this short tale of obsession, a flight attendant’s obsession for a Greek island, an image of escape from the drab routine of walking up and down the narrow aisle serving passengers, listening to complaints, the forced smiles, requirements of politeness and small talk with colleagues, strict dress code, forever marking the minutes on one’s wristwatch. Think of how claustrophobic we can become on an airplane as passengers; then think of all those men and women who spend so much of their life on airplanes. Let me out of here! Dreamtime: Marini’s island is Xiros, a small, solitary island surrounded by an infinite blue. If he would like to experience the island's pristine beauty, he’s told he had better act fast – the tourists will soon flood the island currently inhabited by a handful of fisherman. Marini flies over Xiros at noon three times a week but, so near but so far away, he might as well be dreaming he’s flying over Xiros. I especially fancy Julio’s choice of name for Marini’s island: Xiros, like the number zero with all its ground zero associations. And, of course, in the hectic bustle of our modern world, we all have dreams of escape to a deserted island paradise, reducing all our many nagging hassles down to zero. Growing Obsession: Marini knows he is obsessed – he had read the guidebooks telling him how octopus is the main resource, Xiros fisherman use large stones for piles and every five days a boat leaves for Xiros. He even makes a trip to a travel agency where they tell him he will have to charter a special boat or perhaps hitch a ride on the octopus boat. That’s the nature of obsession – once we allow our obsession to take hold, gathering information, digging into details, it really takes root and grows and grows. And since we live in the age of information with an entire ocean of facts available for anyone to collect and sort through on any topic whatsoever, our obsession can easily fill our every waking hour. Eureka!: The pilots call him the madman of the island; his girlfriend informs him she’s going to marry a dentist; his dinner date makes a beeline for the bar when he launches into island talk, but no matter, Marini is too preoccupied with his one and only subject to give mind to anything else. And then his dream comes true: he finally gets to travel to Xiros. On arrival, the boat’s captain introduces him to Klaios, an island fisherman who has two sons flocking around him. Marini immediately feels at home, kinship with Klaios, instant friends with the boys. Ah, to bask in union with the object of one’s obsession, the object can be another person, perhaps one’s lover or soulmate, an activity like skiing or tennis or cooking, but whatever it is, for the one obsessed, there’s nothing else in this world like it. Dream Come True, One: Mirini sets out for a blissful walk on the island (he recognizes a cove he’s seen from the air!), savoring every minute, then after some time, sweating in the heat of the midday sun, he undresses and thrusts himself from a rock into the sea. He swims and occasionally turns on his back to float, accepting all of his surroundings in a single act of conciliation. He now knows in his heart he has found a new home and will never return to his old life. Dream Come True, Two: After his swim, he strolls back toward the houses. One of Klaios’ sons is waiting for him. Mirini voices the one Greek word he knows: Kalimera. The boy doubles over in laughter. Ah, to share your moment of supreme joy with a new friend. Mirini turns toward the sea and catches a glimpse of the charter boat becoming smaller and smaller on the horizon, which, for him, signals farewell to any dealings he will ever have with his former life. Good riddance! High Noon: Now that he’s on his secluded island, will his former life ever impose itself on him? Mirini closes his eyes, not even wanting to catch so much of a glimpse of the plane that will be flying overhead very soon. But then we read, “Unable to fight against all that past he opened his eyes and sat up, and in the same moment saw the right wing of the plane, almost over his head, tilt unaccountably, the changed sound of the jet engines, the almost vertical drop into the sea.” Dream Turned Nightmare: Mirini runs to the spot of the crash. He dives in the water – all he can glimpse is a cardboard box and a hand, the hand of a dying man. He pulls the man in a white shirt up on land, a man who is now dead in his arms. His mind reels. The boy and some women from the village run up to him. Thus ends the story. However, as readers we know this day, this hour, will be the most vivid, most memorable in the life of Mirini. One of the things I love about a Julio Cortázar short story is we never know how it will end until we finish reading the last sentence. Life can turn that quickly, that sharply, and no writer has ever captured life's sharp turns more brilliantly than Julio.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Théodore

    " The island at noon" - one of Cortàzar stories reunited in " Tous les feux le feu" - is paradigmatic for the ambiguity of the meaning by which the writer throws his reader into the arena of an hamletian anguish, whenever the question of interpretation arises. Imagination and logic take an completely different connotations. Marini is a steward in a luxury plane, that make flights between Rome and Teheran. Twice a month, he forgets everything that was the suffocating routine of his life, when, d " The island at noon" - one of Cortàzar stories reunited in " Tous les feux le feu" - is paradigmatic for the ambiguity of the meaning by which the writer throws his reader into the arena of an hamletian anguish, whenever the question of interpretation arises. Imagination and logic take an completely different connotations. Marini is a steward in a luxury plane, that make flights between Rome and Teheran. Twice a month, he forgets everything that was the suffocating routine of his life, when, during the flight, his eyes are always drawn to the island of Xiros, in the Aegean Sea, a island not included in the tourist circuit, a black spot that looms obsessively between the blue of the horizon and the green of the sea, another closed world, as it seems to be the life he lives too. Marini is a lonely man, lost among people he can't really attach to, and who seeks himself, hoping to save himself by an even greater loneliness. The island, through the isolation it promises, becomes a possibility to start from scratch, to reinvent itself. Not only the dream, but also the reality seems unreal : " Flying over Xiros three times a week was as unreal as dreaming three times a week of flying over the island ". In other words, an island seen from an airplane does not seem more real than a dreamed island, and not the other way around. This is where Cortàzar's game with reality and fantasy begins, Marini being the only one interested in this island, remaining alone in his obsession. The mirage seems to have been reached, because he will arrive on the island, convinced that staying there is the only way to find his peace. " He preferred to be alone, and to lie on the sand, the island invaded him and gave him so much inner joy, that he was no longer able to think or choose ". The illusion and the feeling of being saved by a crack in reality are intact, until the moment when the plane crashes. The ambiguity of the ending is colossal, if we accept the surface logic of the text, it's hard to believe that the plane crash leaves the man with any hope of finding himself by loneliness. With the plane crashing, Marini's illusion is shattered too, in fact, coming out of the reality created by his imagination. In Cortàzar, reality is mythical, it exists beyond the senses. Detaching ourselves from the seemingly realistic scenario, I can also speculate on the possibility of a double reality, of a double identity, the character can exist both on board the plane and on the desert island, without knowing which dimension is more real. Reality turns out to be fabulous, and dreams have the consistency of reality.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    3.5 stars I was evenly divided over this collection. There was sufficient detail and structure, yet the mechanism, the revelation was as likely as not to go flat at the crucial moment. South Thruway and The Island at Noon both had a universal quality, a subconscious resonance. the first a Ballard nightmare as made palpable by Godard and Stipe. The latter was an exquisite notion of modern escape, one back to the primoradial from the comfort of Business Class. The other stories had contrivance hang 3.5 stars I was evenly divided over this collection. There was sufficient detail and structure, yet the mechanism, the revelation was as likely as not to go flat at the crucial moment. South Thruway and The Island at Noon both had a universal quality, a subconscious resonance. the first a Ballard nightmare as made palpable by Godard and Stipe. The latter was an exquisite notion of modern escape, one back to the primoradial from the comfort of Business Class. The other stories had contrivance hanging from them, a visible bulge which distorted. I was also hoping that the tales would steeped into a nebbish, bookish world, not merely recounting the Cuban Revolution or insulating mama from the world's mortality.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    My first Cortázar. Surreal, lyrical, and absolutely magnificent. About once a year I find a new writer I’ve never read that stays with me. 2019 will undoubtedly be the year I found Julio Cortázar. Each story in this collection is a master class in how to distill a grand, novelistic idea. The shifting voices in the title story and “Nurse Cora” were unlike anything I’ve read before. Every word was meticulously placed and each sentence the mark of a craftsman. I’ve noticed that most writers and rea My first Cortázar. Surreal, lyrical, and absolutely magnificent. About once a year I find a new writer I’ve never read that stays with me. 2019 will undoubtedly be the year I found Julio Cortázar. Each story in this collection is a master class in how to distill a grand, novelistic idea. The shifting voices in the title story and “Nurse Cora” were unlike anything I’ve read before. Every word was meticulously placed and each sentence the mark of a craftsman. I’ve noticed that most writers and readers don’t simply recommend reading Cortázar, they say you must read Cortázar. Now, I know why.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    I had read several recent reviews on this book and was encouraged to read this small collection of eight stories. Published in 1966, some stories are written in a very experimental style (Instructiones para John Howell and Todos los fuegos el fuego). I have read his classic Rayuela, a very experimental book and loved it. I have to admit when Cortázar uses this technique in a short story, it can get confusing fast so one needs to pay attention, or in my case read a passage to figure things out. Bu I had read several recent reviews on this book and was encouraged to read this small collection of eight stories. Published in 1966, some stories are written in a very experimental style (Instructiones para John Howell and Todos los fuegos el fuego). I have read his classic Rayuela, a very experimental book and loved it. I have to admit when Cortázar uses this technique in a short story, it can get confusing fast so one needs to pay attention, or in my case read a passage to figure things out. But the joy is the short story is brevity and getting/making a point. This is almost always at the very end (La autopista del sur was not) and one is either amazed or annoyed. Almost all of these endings for me were in the first category. There is humour, love, fear, tragedy and just plain enjoyment involved here. I found the last two stories as well as the first two as full five story reads; the other four were good but a little lesser in "wow" factor for me. So I would give it a 4.5 but I am sure other readers would bicker on this point. If you like the short story, these are worthy to read. Below are my individual reactions: La autopista del sur - At first I didn't quite grasp where Cortázar was going with this story because it just seemed too obvious. A couple with a young child gets stuck in a huge traffic jam. Everyone slowly begins to chat, share food and water, help each other but then this traffic jam seemed to go on and on. For days, or so it seemed. Mysterious cars appear selling black market materials, someone gets ill, a person dies. Then things tidy up. The whole story is symbolism for our society. At first we help, but then bad things happen, and our predictable lives are a mess. This one packs a punch even though it's very subtle. La salud de Los enfermos - I really enjoyed the black humour of this story. Mama is old and very week. One should not aggravate ever. So when her youngest child, the "golden" one sets off for Brazil as an engineer on a big project, he gets killed in an accident. The family decides its best not to tell her the truth. "He's busy" or "he can't get time off" or any excuse. Then her aging sister gets sick and dies, now what do we do? Loved this story! Reunión - The soldiers land on the beach and Luis is going to help them. Things go badly. They seem to be on the run. Will Luis help them? La señorita Cora - This was a fun one. Young teen boy in the hospital for appendicitis and in pain. Enter nurse Cora. She will make things better. Won't she? Nothing like young male love. La isla a mediodía - This story kicked off enjoyably. Young Italian man flies over his favourite Greek island three times a week exactly at noon. He has given up Carla, acts like a playboy sleeping with whom he meets, especially stewardesses. But he can't get this island out of his head. He borrows some money, makes the challenging trip to the island only to discover there is only a family living there. Then the unexpected happens. Not quite what I was expecting. Instructiones para John Howell - A man, his woman, deceived by an another man is "played out" in a theatrical manner. Todos los fuegos el fuego - This is a master of writing, blending a scene from a Roman gladiator battle with a ménage between a man and two women. The scenes switch, sometimes every couple of lines but the symbolism is masterful. Even that odd title "All the fires the fire" hits you after you read the last lines of the story. El otro cielo - Wow, what a story. This was my favourite in the book. The narrator, a runner in the stock market is engaged to Irma. He is bored of his job and his impending marriage and frequents the brothels (so typical of Latin American writers) and spends the nights with Josiane. He enjoys "the other heaven" but when mysterious Laurent begins killing prostitute, things get tense. The story is set during the forties in Buenos Aires, and the lives of the working poor erupts with political upheaval, the narrator is forced to make choices. This political side intertwines the social side and Cortázar weaves a masterful story. This is one to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Inderjit Sanghera

    Reading Julio Cortazar brings back an internal debate I was having with myself after I attended a book group in which we discussed “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Most the attendees were dismissive of the novel due to (what they felt) was an incoherent plot structure and unrealistic events within the novel, which led me to ponder the difference between naturalistic and linear Anglo-Saxon narrative techniques and the fantastical nature of Latin American nature, in which the authors instead of te Reading Julio Cortazar brings back an internal debate I was having with myself after I attended a book group in which we discussed “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Most the attendees were dismissive of the novel due to (what they felt) was an incoherent plot structure and unrealistic events within the novel, which led me to ponder the difference between naturalistic and linear Anglo-Saxon narrative techniques and the fantastical nature of Latin American nature, in which the authors instead of telling a linear story are more concerned with dissecting and exploring literary narratives in a fashion that most readers used to the conventions of Western fiction would find disorientating, during events that most Western writers would find unrealistic. Like Borges, Cortazar is concerned not so much with objective reality, but exploring the surreal and all too often fantastical nature of reality vis-à-vis art, The Other Heaven being a Borges like play on a conventional literary genre-the murder mystery story, welded together with the surreal world which Cortazar has created for his characters, who revolve like planets around his imaginary universe. Like Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, Cortazar explores the highly sentimental world of Spanish soap operas in “The Health of the Sick”, a wonderful and whimsical exploration of family relationships. The surreal atmosphere of “Instructions for John Howell”, a story which is suffused with a Kafkaesque paranoia which again resembles Borges is another brilliant story and the jejunish “The Island at Noon” recalls the fantastical “Invention of Morel” by Bioy Casares. However Cortazar’s strongest short is the one in which he sheds the skins of literary influences to create a truly original and spellbinding juxtaposition of a gladiator’s demise in Ancient Rome, with a scene between a couple set in modern times, Cortazar’s imagination sets off a spark which incinerates the arena in which the gladiator lies dying, which in turns sets off a blaze in the apartment of the couple, as the two scenes coalesce at the end of the story as Cortazar’s imagination conflagrates, as he blazes his own path in literary history to create the wonderful set of short stories contained in “All Fires the Fire” and his other short story collections.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darryl

    This collection of short stories was originally published in 1966 in Spanish, translated into English in 1973, and re-released by Marion Boyers Publishers (UK) in 2005; I picked it up at the London Review Bookshop this summer. If I had only read the first two short stories, "The Southern Thruway" and "The Health of the Sick", I would have given this book 5 stars. The first story is about a horrific traffic jam on a major road bringing travelers back to Paris, where motorists are essentially motio This collection of short stories was originally published in 1966 in Spanish, translated into English in 1973, and re-released by Marion Boyers Publishers (UK) in 2005; I picked it up at the London Review Bookshop this summer. If I had only read the first two short stories, "The Southern Thruway" and "The Health of the Sick", I would have given this book 5 stars. The first story is about a horrific traffic jam on a major road bringing travelers back to Paris, where motorists are essentially motionless for weeks, with no help from local residents or government officials. The second story is centered around the dying matriarch of a wealthy family whose members ingeniously hide from her the death of her son and sister—or so they think. Unfortunately the remaining six stories do not come close to the promise of the first two, and only "Nurse Cora", a story about a teenage boy who is hospitalized with appendicitis, competently cared for by Nurse Cora, but badly mismanaged by his diffident surgeon, was of interest. However, this story was marred by rapid and unpredictable changes in the narration (boy, nurse, doctor, mother), which disrupted its flow. I would marginally recommend this collection, but only because the first two stories were fantastic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis Eisenstadt

    Excellent short stories. My favorite was "La Isla a mediodia." Cortazar certainly has a way with words, and he spins the most memorable tales that are more than merely short stories; they are paintings with words. I first read his short stories in college, so these are rereads for me, and enjoyed just as much the second time around. They are never to be forgotten. Excellent short stories. My favorite was "La Isla a mediodia." Cortazar certainly has a way with words, and he spins the most memorable tales that are more than merely short stories; they are paintings with words. I first read his short stories in college, so these are rereads for me, and enjoyed just as much the second time around. They are never to be forgotten.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nate D

    Cortazar created a certain kind of storytelling in the work collected in Blow-Up and Other Stories, a kind of moebius strip construction that flips over and loops back without slowing. Here, he seems consciously to keep pushing his forms forward, defying the expectations he has laid out for himself and pushing in new directions, or else cutting back to avoid the expected twist by some more subtle maneuver. The results vary in success, making this a bit more uneven as a collection, but never for Cortazar created a certain kind of storytelling in the work collected in Blow-Up and Other Stories, a kind of moebius strip construction that flips over and loops back without slowing. Here, he seems consciously to keep pushing his forms forward, defying the expectations he has laid out for himself and pushing in new directions, or else cutting back to avoid the expected twist by some more subtle maneuver. The results vary in success, making this a bit more uneven as a collection, but never for a moment boring. The dystopian roadways of the opener stun in particular.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nikos79

    This is the first book I have ever tried by Julio Cortazar. In this collection, I found the best story this one with the unbelievable traffic jam in highway to Paris which focus on the relationships being developed between people under difficult or even dangerous situations, and the melancholic taste that leaves the ending. I also liked a lot the story starring the young nurse miss Cora and admired the multiple narrators who appear with no previous warning in the text. Also the story about the h This is the first book I have ever tried by Julio Cortazar. In this collection, I found the best story this one with the unbelievable traffic jam in highway to Paris which focus on the relationships being developed between people under difficult or even dangerous situations, and the melancholic taste that leaves the ending. I also liked a lot the story starring the young nurse miss Cora and admired the multiple narrators who appear with no previous warning in the text. Also the story about the health of sick people was pretty good. The other stories were just ok and some of them kind of indifferent. In general and without being a big fan of short stories, I pretty liked this collection and although I didn't find the whole book as something special, I adored the narrative voice of Cortazar which is quite addictive and I guess I 'll continue with him at some point with some other of his books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    i like cortazar's facility with language, and inevitably, as with any latin literature, it resonates with my own understanding of how families operate and cultural proclivities. and yet, for the most part these stories did not move me. there are a few that i admired very much, most of all, the island at noon, the most simply told of the stories, of a male flight attendant who happens to glance out with the window, and espy a small island which he comes to see as the focus of his life. he calls i i like cortazar's facility with language, and inevitably, as with any latin literature, it resonates with my own understanding of how families operate and cultural proclivities. and yet, for the most part these stories did not move me. there are a few that i admired very much, most of all, the island at noon, the most simply told of the stories, of a male flight attendant who happens to glance out with the window, and espy a small island which he comes to see as the focus of his life. he calls it the golden turtle island and he plans and thinks and daydreams for the day he will be there: swimming in its coves and sheltering under its trees. it ends in an ingenious, and satisfying, yet disturbing way. simple and visceral: just the way i like it. the southern thruway, instructions for john howell, and the other heaven are quite good, and fascinating, in their ways. the rest of the stories are stylistically innovative and yet leave me cold. i think well worth reading as a first cortazar to give an appreciation of his style, and interests as a writer, and am interested in reading another sample. for some reason he reminds of the richard ford stuff i read, but some of his ideas aspire to borges and dick.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    I would have given this collection of short stories, the second I read from Cortazar (after We Love Glenda So Much and Other Stories, a full 5 stars rating if it were not for the way I felt he was casually treating domestic violence, with no hint of being bothered by it. It wasn't in a deliberately callous way to make us feel strongly against the narrator or something, it just seems as if it never occurred to the author himself that this violence is something to be outraged about. It feels as if I would have given this collection of short stories, the second I read from Cortazar (after We Love Glenda So Much and Other Stories, a full 5 stars rating if it were not for the way I felt he was casually treating domestic violence, with no hint of being bothered by it. It wasn't in a deliberately callous way to make us feel strongly against the narrator or something, it just seems as if it never occurred to the author himself that this violence is something to be outraged about. It feels as if he finds it only slightly distasteful and boring, but inevitable and somewhat justified. I may be reading too much into it, but it left a sour taste and I have mixed feelings towards the author now. Besides that, most of the writing is undoubtedly brilliant. My favorite story was the one about Roman gladiator rings (in that case, Cortazar could be bothered to feel a little more strongly about the dehumanizing violence) and the parallel to a more contemporary setting (a double story), the one which also gives the entire collection its title, All Fires, the Fire.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Xantha Page

    The third Cortázar collection I've read (I've yet to read his any of his novels, actually), and it contains plenty of what I admire in his stories: aside from his breathless prose and seemingly effortless formal experiments (there's one story in which he cycles between three different perspectives, often switching in the middle of a sentence, and just makes it work), there's his ability to take a totally mundane setting or scenario and turn into the stuff of horror or fantasy, without necessaril The third Cortázar collection I've read (I've yet to read his any of his novels, actually), and it contains plenty of what I admire in his stories: aside from his breathless prose and seemingly effortless formal experiments (there's one story in which he cycles between three different perspectives, often switching in the middle of a sentence, and just makes it work), there's his ability to take a totally mundane setting or scenario and turn into the stuff of horror or fantasy, without necessarily verging explicitly into those domains. The most striking example in this collection is the one about a traffic jam: from the everyday tedium, isolation, and madness of the highway, he creates an apocalyptic tale in which clusters of drivers, caught in a seemingly endless jam, band together into survivalist cells, constituted by strict hierarchies and mutual suspicion. While I've come to regard nearly all such cynical tales of civilization's collapse as allegories of civilization itself, Cortázar renders this explicit. It's the sort of thing that would be trivial or cutesy in the hands of a lesser writer, but Cortázar's one of the greats.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dmitry Malikov

    not sure about the rest but "La Señorita Cora" is just gorgeous not sure about the rest but "La Señorita Cora" is just gorgeous

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    This was good. Cortazar is deceptively difficult. His sentences are sometimes filled with comma splices, it makes it really hard to read and to follow his train of thought. But he doesn't do it in all the stories. And sometimes his stories are really boring, but I never feel like they are outright bad. He's always trying to figure something out in these stories. Southern Thruway: apocolyptic traffic jam, interesting idea, kind of boring to actually read though 2/5 Health of the Sick: very good, at This was good. Cortazar is deceptively difficult. His sentences are sometimes filled with comma splices, it makes it really hard to read and to follow his train of thought. But he doesn't do it in all the stories. And sometimes his stories are really boring, but I never feel like they are outright bad. He's always trying to figure something out in these stories. Southern Thruway: apocolyptic traffic jam, interesting idea, kind of boring to actually read though 2/5 Health of the Sick: very good, at times felt kinda like a Lydia Davis story with its serpentine logic. Very funny too 4/5 Meeting: guerilla warfare. 2/5 Nurse Cora: very good, the form worked well with the content... kinda Virginia Woolf-ish. 3.5/5 Instructions for John Howell: kafka-esque scenario. I hate the term Kafkaesque 3/5 Island at noon: nice little story, maybe a little too tidy, but still very good 4/5 All Fires the Fire: seems like an extension of what he did in Nurse Cora, but less effective. 1.5/5 Other Heaven: loved this one. Evocative, nostalgic. It's not a great story in terms of what happens, there's not even much of a point to it, but it seems very real, not like a constructed story, but just someone telling you about a period in their life. My favorite in this collection. 5/5

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    In general, I am not overly fond of short stories. But there are some writers, such as Julio Cortázar who make the experience of reading their stories a memorable one. He will do strange things, such as shift the point of view within a paragraph -- even within a sentence such as in the title story, "All Fires the Fire" and in "Nurse Cora." His story "Southern Thruway" tells of a massive traffic jam lasting days, during which time couples make love, people die, and drivers scrounge for food and w In general, I am not overly fond of short stories. But there are some writers, such as Julio Cortázar who make the experience of reading their stories a memorable one. He will do strange things, such as shift the point of view within a paragraph -- even within a sentence such as in the title story, "All Fires the Fire" and in "Nurse Cora." His story "Southern Thruway" tells of a massive traffic jam lasting days, during which time couples make love, people die, and drivers scrounge for food and water amidst an increasingly hostile local populace. (Shades of Jean-Luc Godard's film Weekend!) I get the impression that this collection is out of print. Like everything of the author's that I have read so far, it is worth any effort to track down and read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cully

    Perhaps because I read a few amazingly written books before this one, I wasn't very impressed with Cortazar's writing as a whole. Though, he does have his moments. But, that's not why you should read him. There is a depth in his expression that I've never encountered in any other stories. He chooses some fundamental human experiences to explore (fear, love, obsession, jealousy, etc.), and uses some unique and creative methods that may appear at first to be frivolous, but turn out giving the sens Perhaps because I read a few amazingly written books before this one, I wasn't very impressed with Cortazar's writing as a whole. Though, he does have his moments. But, that's not why you should read him. There is a depth in his expression that I've never encountered in any other stories. He chooses some fundamental human experiences to explore (fear, love, obsession, jealousy, etc.), and uses some unique and creative methods that may appear at first to be frivolous, but turn out giving the sense that it the only way to really understand the subject. Some favorites from this collection: The Island at Noon -- I still don't understand how Cortazar accomplished what he did in nine pages. The Other Heaven -- His best writing of the collection.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Cortázar dangles answers, alludes to them, connects characters with them; but don't think for a moment you'll be let in on them, if they really exist in the first place. Cortázar is talented, thought-provoking, and frustrating. Cortázar dangles answers, alludes to them, connects characters with them; but don't think for a moment you'll be let in on them, if they really exist in the first place. Cortázar is talented, thought-provoking, and frustrating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Norton

    Some interesting ideas, with affinities to Camus in theme, and stylistically with Sartre. Unfortunately the writing tends toward hard-to-digest blocks that left me unengaged. Not much similarity with Borges except in nationality.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    This collection of short stories by the master contains some awfully strange experiments,most which work for me. I made this book last by limiting myself to a story a day,which did seem to heighten my appreciation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dmitriy

    "Anyone who hasn't read Cortazar is doomed... He would quietly become sadder, noticeably paler, and probably, little by little, he would lose his hair." -- Pablo Neruda. "Anyone who hasn't read Cortazar is doomed... He would quietly become sadder, noticeably paler, and probably, little by little, he would lose his hair." -- Pablo Neruda.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lari Bartolo

    I

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hriday

    This shall be more of a comment than a review. While Cortazar’s being a magic realist has been commented on, rather confoundingly what I noted was the skilful use of language. Who would believe that this was a work in translation? Cortazar uses enjambment, alliteration and assonance to write the sort of fluid prose which is similar to that of works narrated using the stream of consciousness technique albeit in far more coherent prose. The stories are limpid and marked by the same fluidity. Be it; This shall be more of a comment than a review. While Cortazar’s being a magic realist has been commented on, rather confoundingly what I noted was the skilful use of language. Who would believe that this was a work in translation? Cortazar uses enjambment, alliteration and assonance to write the sort of fluid prose which is similar to that of works narrated using the stream of consciousness technique albeit in far more coherent prose. The stories are limpid and marked by the same fluidity. Be it; the merging of the putative love making of a Roman royal with a gladiator which causes her jealous husband to arrange for a fight that could only end in the death of the gladiator with a modern day infidelity in the title story; Or the obscure fascination of a flight purser with an island; the voices merge leading to a complex hybrid reality. The recurring feature common to all stories is death looming; sometimes ominously; other times more as a myth than a concrete reality. The merging of different voices is done extremely skillfully with a reader being forced to vary his pace according to the author’s idiosyncratic wishes rather than a narration which lets the reader determine his pace as per his leisure. The aforementioned use of enjambment, alliteration et al come together to deliver stories green as jade while being viciously thought provoking. The endings are marked by a bipolarity with some endings offering closure while others merely force one to ponder on the impossibility and perishability of pleasure and brings us back to the theme throughout- Death

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paco

    i think that i enjoyed this more than blow-up, partly because i'm more used to cortazar's writing and partly because this was a shorter collection with less stories, and so they seemed to be of more consistent quality. the stories here are much less 'gimmicky' and have less of a fantastical edge to them, but there's still a weirdly magical quality to cortazar's writing, especially the way he's able to jump between different points of view and time periods and images. occasionally the stream of c i think that i enjoyed this more than blow-up, partly because i'm more used to cortazar's writing and partly because this was a shorter collection with less stories, and so they seemed to be of more consistent quality. the stories here are much less 'gimmicky' and have less of a fantastical edge to them, but there's still a weirdly magical quality to cortazar's writing, especially the way he's able to jump between different points of view and time periods and images. occasionally the stream of consciousness will lead to some confusion, especially in "instructions for john howell", but it works overall. my favorites were "the southern thruway," "the health of the sick," "nurse cora," and "the other heaven."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rocio Iglesias

    If I wrote what each story was about you’d likely think, “oh wow this book sounds interesting,” however it’s the WAY that the author tells each story that is so deeply boring and almost difficult to get through. With very little flow, I often found myself in the middle of each story wishing it could be over (all but “La Isla al Mediodía”). I also read Cortázar’s explanation/reflection on the stories which was very interesting. Overall though, a book should be enjoyable to read. Not just to read If I wrote what each story was about you’d likely think, “oh wow this book sounds interesting,” however it’s the WAY that the author tells each story that is so deeply boring and almost difficult to get through. With very little flow, I often found myself in the middle of each story wishing it could be over (all but “La Isla al Mediodía”). I also read Cortázar’s explanation/reflection on the stories which was very interesting. Overall though, a book should be enjoyable to read. Not just to read about.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adam Kretz

    This is one of those collections with a few standout stories, but where the rest couldn’t hold my interest. I thought “The Island at Noon” was exceptional, as was “The Southern Thruway,” which opens the book. “The Health of the Sick” was also very good once it got going. The others just didn’t quite do it for me. But the good stories were so good that it makes me interested in his other collections - this isn’t a “meh” set of stories, just a very uneven one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Another good selection from Cortazar. Title story has this unusual device whereby the two narratives run concurrently and can flip mid-sentence. Just when you think you've come across every stylistic flourish, aye. Of all the ones I've finished, this is probably his most consistent short story collection. Another good selection from Cortazar. Title story has this unusual device whereby the two narratives run concurrently and can flip mid-sentence. Just when you think you've come across every stylistic flourish, aye. Of all the ones I've finished, this is probably his most consistent short story collection.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    Overall a little bit less magical than C's first three collections of cuentos, but still required reading. La señorita Cora is one of his most fun stories and pure Cortázar in the ending. La autopista del sur and El otro cielo were both strong as well, although I felt like I was missing something in the latter. Overall a little bit less magical than C's first three collections of cuentos, but still required reading. La señorita Cora is one of his most fun stories and pure Cortázar in the ending. La autopista del sur and El otro cielo were both strong as well, although I felt like I was missing something in the latter.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Su

    My favorite short story collection yet. I love cortazar's approach of slowly drawing you in as a reader and then pulling the curtain in the last act of the story, he does a great job of crafting language around the progression of the story. The stories that I liked the most were The Southern Thruway, The Health of the Sick, and The Other Heaven. My favorite short story collection yet. I love cortazar's approach of slowly drawing you in as a reader and then pulling the curtain in the last act of the story, he does a great job of crafting language around the progression of the story. The stories that I liked the most were The Southern Thruway, The Health of the Sick, and The Other Heaven.

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