recounted lear

“In the two extremes (insufficient installation in ordinary circumstances and almost total rejection of the), the story sins through impermeability; it works with momentarily justified materials among which there is no osmosis, no convincing formulation. The good reader senses that none of these things had to be there, not the strangling hand, nor the gentleman who determines to spend the night in a desolate dwelling on a bet. This type of story, which deadens anthologies of the genre, recalls Edward Lear’s recipe for a pie whose glorious name I have forgotten: take a hog, tie it to a stake, and beat it violently, while at the same time preparing a gruel of diverse ingredients, interrupting its cooking only to continue beating the hog. If at the end of three days the glop and the hog have not formed a homogeneous substance, the pie must be considered a failure, the hog released, and the glop consigned to the garbage. Which is precisely what we do with stories in which there is no osmosis, where the fantastic and the ordinary are brought together without forming the pie we want to enjoy trembling.”

(Julio Cortázar, from “On the Short Story and Its Environs,” p. 167 in Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, trans. Thomas Christensen. Lear’s recipe is for Gosky Patties.)

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