I can’t believe that three of the greatest literary geniuses of Latin America have fear of flights as a common denominator. It is just so simple. El Universal, a Mexican newspaper, published a story about how they were all at the same place and the same time, riding a train from Paris to Prague, and talking about life and their works. An “unrepeatable journey,” as Gabriel García Márquez describes it, was what he spent with Julio Cortázar and Carlos Fuentes in 1968. The reason behind the unveiling of this journey, is the publishing of a book about Cortázar that includes letters, interviews and an introduction by García Márquez.
Picturing this three writers together for hours during a trip in Central Europe makes me really wonder how a lecture from Cortázar would play out. According to García Márquez, there was a point in which the three of them had talked about everything. This, to me, is simply inconceivable. How is it that this three fascinating people could run out of things to talk about?
A simple question was what triggered the conversation lasting the rest of the journey, breaking the silence of the previous lecture that Cortázar had given. Fuentes then asked him how the piano was introduced into the jazz orchestra and went in-depth with another lecture explaining it. To me that sounds just like Cortázar. When I read “Hopscotch,” it was really hard to follow the plot in between the lectures of Oliveira, the main character, and his destructive relationship with La Maga, his love interest.
La Jornada manages to summarize the book for me (this is a translation from the text in Spanish):
What is truly important about “Hopscotch” is that it reveals another reality, different from that serving as a scenario to what happens, which are revealed as the book advances and jumps in the chapters composing the book, making us share the certainty of the true life, the genuine reality, which is hidden underneath the one we live consciously.
I think this really summarizes “Hopscotch” to me. It wasn’t a story, but more of an account of true life and how it unfolds in front of our eyes without us really having control over me. The factor of inevitability is what really captured me from the book and thinking about destiny playing to bring García Márquez, Cortázar and Fuentes together, really makes me think that the disorderly life of Oliveira is not far from reality at all. Chance encounters are part of life in ways no one can control.