62: A Model Kit

ISBN: 0811214370
ISBN 13: 9780811214377
By: Julio Cortázar Gregory Rabassa

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About this book

As one of the main characters, the intellectual Juan, puts it: to one person the City might appear as Paris, to another it might be where one goes upon getting out of bed in Barcelona; to another it might appear as a beer hall in Oslo. This cityscape, as Carlos Fuentes describes it, "seems drawn up by the Marx Brothers with an assist from Bela Lugosi!" It is the meeting place for a wild assortment of bohemians in a novel described by The New York Times as "Deeply touching, enjoyable, beautifully written and fascinatingly mysterious." Library Journal has said 62: A Model Kit is "a highly satisfying work by one of the most extraordinary writers of our time."

Reader's Thoughts

David Katzman

A tale of two cities. One is Madrid the other imaginary. A tale of two novels written by itinerant, international authors both of whom had Spanish as their first language. A tale of two experimental novels. One I loved; one I did not. Can you guess which is which?Cortazar published 62: A Model Kit in Spanish in 1968; the edition I read was translated in 1972. Alfau published Locos: a Comedy of Gestures in 1936 in English. Cortazar had Argentinean parents but was born in Europe then moved back to Buenos Aires when he was very young and later, back to Europe. Alfau was born in Barcelona but moved to the United States when he was 14. Locos was published when he was 34.Call me crazy, but I loved Locos. Pun intended. It is charming and cruel, tragic and hilarious, ambiguous yet direct, and written with clear, poetic prose. The experimental style on display never overwhelmed the narrative. Despite the fact that Alfau directly declares the fictive nature of his characters, he made me care about them. Unfortunately, I found 62: a Model Kit to be nearly the opposite despite significant similarities. Cortazar seems to be peopling an imaginary city with characters and scenarios imagined by the very characters in the story, but unfortunately they never seemed real. The characters seemed undeveloped, Cortazar would reveal a quirky trait here or there, but they came across as highly abstract intellectual exercises. Where as Alfau acknowledges the characters are abstract, but he made them seem real! I found the prose in 62 to be opaque and unwelcoming. The sentences zigzagged in ways that didn't complement my brain. I felt like I was constantly trying to trace the thoughts of an intellectual squirrel on crystal meth. (Have you ever done crystal meth? It's like being on a mega-dose of caffeine but it sucks out all your wit. You are basically an idiot who thinks he's not.) At any rate, every phrase that Cortazar wrote took the sentence in a different direction, and I became tired of trying to figure out what he was trying to say. I found the writing tedious. I couldn't get the meaning out of it. I don't know if I should put some blame on the translation or not, but after 60 pages I threw in the towel. I skimmed forward just to pick out sentences here and there and could see that it was essentially the same book throughout. This experience was severely disappointing after I quite enjoyed reading Autonauts of the CosmorouteWith Locos , Alfau seems to be following in the footsteps of fellow Spaniard Luigi Pirandello who wrote a play in 1921 entitled Six Characters In Search of an Author. I actually performed in this show in college! But Alfau goes to a place that blends great humor with the tragedy. The story begins (roughly) with Alfau, playing himself, at a cafe with a "friend" who becomes a character in the book. This cafe is where bad authors go to discover characters for their stories. In that cafe, we meet many of the characters who will populate the book. Note the irony. What follows is a series of interconnected short stories about many of them. Most characters reappear throughout and even when they are not featured, a brief mention may act as a dramatic revelation that changes significantly what you read before. And further, some of the characters seem to metamorphosize and despite having the same names, serve different roles or have different relationships in subsequent stories. The entirety manages to hold together as more of a novel than a collection partly thanks to the overlapping characters, partly through the consistent tone and style, and partly because Alfau is always in the background or making appearances as "the author." He has several charming asides regarding how his characters have "gotten away from him," and he can't quite control them. Trust me, it just works. Some of the stories are quite hilarious. Some are devastating and yet often absurd. In one case, a man is obsessed with fingerprints because he believes his father invented the...science of fingerprints? And didn't receive the recognition he deserves. In another scenario, the police are having a convention in Madrid at the same time as a blackout citywide occurs, which leads to a crimewave of everyone mugging just about everyone. And the police are so busy with their convention that they are too tired to even arrest anyone. It's so ridiculous, Lucy. The theme of the absurdity of life is never far from the surface.I devoured Locos; I dropped 62 like a hot potato. If you want to dip your toe into some literature that is experimental without being alienating, then I highly recommend Locos. It's just flat out brilliant, feels modern (post) in content and style, and it's a book that can be read multiple times. Love, love, loved it.


This book confirmed my unconditional love for Cortazar as it took nearly half the book for me to realize what might be going on in the plot as well as who the narrator(s) are; but in spite of this, I never lost enthusiasm.

Haydee Pineda

mi favorito de todos los tiempos

Claudio Saavedra

This is a wonderful novel, hard to follow at times, but once you break through, it can only be captivating. It's fair to say that anyone who enjoyed 'Rayuela' will probably be delighted by this book as well. I can now say that this is will certainly be one of my favorite works by Cortázar.

Martin Hernandez

Hay libros buenos, que uno los lee con atención y al terminarlos, listo, ya estuvo, te quedas con un buen sabor de boca y pasas al siguiente libro sin mayor trámite. Y hay otros libros que son más que buenos, que te atrapan, que necesitas leer con calma, y al final de cada párrafo necesitas detenerte a reflexionar, a contrastar lo que dice el libro con tu propia experiencia, y casi deseas que el libro no acabe. "62/Modelo para Armar" es de estos últimos. Maravilloso, magistral, inolvidable. Con mucho, a obra más experimental de CORTÁZAR, más que "Rayuela", más que cualquier otra cosa que haya escrito.

Jeff Jackson

For Dennis Cooper's blog, I recently transcribed a super rare interview Cortazar did in the late 60s while writing "62: A Model Kit." He talks about his process, the book's structure, and other interesting bits: http://denniscooper-theweaklings.blog...This book is jaw dropping amazing. The episodic "Hopscotch" may have higher highs, but this is Julio Cortazar's greatest novel from start to finish. It's unlike anything else I've read. The closest analog might not be in literature but Jacques Rivette's wild films of the 1970s. The continual dislocations of time and space (not to mention the vampire subplot) lend the novel's realist situations a vertiginous sense of the fantastic. The point of view keeps shifting from character to character, slowly emphasizing a collective web of relationships over any one personality. Cortazar has profound insights into friendships and amorous relationships, but he offers them at steep and oblique angles. The book teaches you how to read its peculiar shifts and emotional hues and half-tones, though it can be tough going in the beginning while you're getting the hang of it. But the novel's style quickly becomes intoxicating and you can see how the various intertwined and overlapping stories are hurtling toward their climaxes. Like all of Cortazar, you come out of the experience feeling enriched and seeing the world as if through a more powerful prescription. YOU SHOULD READ THIS.


Lo que nos salva a todos es una vida tácita que poco tiene que ver con lo cotidiano o lo astronómico, una influencia espesa que lucha contra la fácil dispersión en cualquier conformismo o cualquier rebeldía más o menos gregarios, una catarata de tortugas que no termina nunca de hacer pie porque desciende con un movimiento retardado que apenas guarda relación con nuestras identidades de foto tres cuartos sobre fondo blanco e impresión dígito-pulgar derecho, la vida como algo ajeno pero que lo mismo hay que cuidar.


Increiblemente esta semi-secuela de la Rayuela que me fue imposible leer, la encontré un poquito más digerible, y hasta pude disfrutar de algunos pasajes. No es que la recomiende, pues no pude conectar con la mayor parte, pero de todos modos es interesante hacer esfuerzos literarios de vez en cuando.

Matt Leibel

Cortazar is one of the most fearless, innovative and wide-ranging of the group of "experimental" writers who came to prominence largely in the 1960s. And there's certainly something hippie-faux-intellectual-bohemian about the crew of Argentian ex-pats in London, Paris and Vienna throughout this baffling-but-addictive book, which was grown out of one of the "disposable" chapters in Cortazar's earlier more famous masterpiece "Hopscotch". The characters drink every kind of alcohol you can think of, philosophize, smoke, take aimless train rides, send each other mysterious dolls, and wager on snail races (the snail is named Oswaldo…). Honestly, I didn't understand this book the first time I read it. There were themes, for sure, resonances, but nothing approaching actual full comprehension. So I immediately read it again. I think I understood it even less the second time. But then I started reading it a third time. And I could keep going. Maybe it's because of sentences like the one that follows, maybe my favorite-ever sentence, and probably a good barometer of whether Cortazar's polarizing style would work for you (picture the scene: a woman standing on the platform in the Paris Metro, waiting for her train, looking up at the ad billboards:"That's how, almost without seeing them, you start to look at the enormous posters one after the other, the ones that violate distraction and seek their path in your memory--first a soup, then some eyeglasses, then a make of television, gigantic photographs where every tooth of the child who likes Knorr soups has the size of a matchbox and the fingernails on the man watching television look like spoons (to drink the soup in the neighboring poster, for example), but the only thing that completely attracts me is the left eye of the girl who loves Babybel cheese, an eye like the eye to a tunnel, a series of concentric galleries and, in the middle, the cone of the tunnel which disappears into the depths like that other tunnel where I would have to have entered by going down the forbidden stairs, and which starts to vibrate, to moan, to fill with lights and squeals until the doors of the train open and I get in and sit on the bench reserved for invalids or old people or pregnant women, across from the seats where undefinable pygmies with microscopic teeth and imperceptible nails travel along with the fixed and mistrustful expression of Parisians tied to salaries of hunger and bitterness that are mass produced like Knorr soups."


Hispanic Lit Month Appreciation Thingy.***Review to come


Worth the effort, especially if you're the type of reader who likes things difficult. In that case, Cortazar is love.

Gabriel Kingsom

Uno de los libros que más me han gustado en mucho tiempo. Me fue difícil, al inicio (las primeras 50 páginas no supe ni qué leía), entender las piezas que el autor va soltando como si fueran enchiladas (como señora en un tianguis haciendo, una tras otra incansablemente, cientos de tortillas de masa cruda, con alguna mezcla de salsa y requesón). Es una lectura en la que no todo está claro, llena de "transgresiones literarias", cuyos personajes y figuras están tan vivos que casi puedes tocarlos. No tiene un verdadero principio ni un verdadero final, la estructura temporal de la narrativa es un completo caos (un caos bello, si se quiere). Poco a poco todo va encajando, no como un rompecabezas sino algo más parecido a estructura abstracta y de muchas dimensiones; en fin, que Cortázar me enamora cada vez más.


we should all read this book.. its complicated but beautifully writen!


It took me a good 70 or so pages to really get into this, but the remaining pages made me extraordinarily glad that I was so patient.

Bethany Lang

This is definitely not the kind of book that you can see down for a leisurely read with, but as almost all of the other reviewers have stated, the investment that it requires is definitely worth it. Yes, it's confusing - narrators often change in the middle of sentences, characters seem almost interchangeable at times, and locales change at the drop of a hat - but there are some absolutely beautiful passages here. Despite the fact that at times the book and the plot can seem cold and distant, there are passages that really vividly capture some very human moments, especially grief and the desperate aching for an ex-lover. I devoured the last thirty or so pages.

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