Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires

Julio Cort%C3%A1zar, trans. from the Spanish by David Kurnick. Semiotext(e), $14.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-58435-134-4
In 1975, after participating in the Second Russell Tribunal's investigation of human rights violations in Latin America, Cortázar (Hopscotch) sits in a train bound for his Paris home, ogling women and reading a Mexican comic book starring a white-masked superman named Fantomas. Little does Cortázar know, however, that he is part of this comic book story—someone has stolen and destroyed the world's books!—and that Fantomas is also part of reality. Soon, phone conversations and comic pages intertwine, and Cortázar finds himself working with other literary greats (Sontag, Paz, Moravia) to aid the masked hero. But the solution isn't as easy as Fantomas predicts, and Cortázar and company begin to suspect that the scoundrels behind the devastation are the very organizations condemned by the Russell Tribunal: multinational corporations and political regimes. Though fairly short, the volume is ceaselessly interesting, alternating between comic book pages (taken from an actual Fantomas comic story), drawings, photographs, and traditional text, and showcasing the late author's penchant for surrealism and experimentation. Simultaneously funny and damning—Cortázar makes sure to include the Russell Tribunal's full report as an appendix—the novella is a quick, engaging read, sure to please the author's many fans. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/18/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
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