“Anyone who doesn’t read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair. I don’t want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar.” —Pablo Neruda

Dear Brent Edwards (my old friend, with whom I first read this book, in Paris, in 1990) and dear Sam Potts (for whom this book means so much): I hope this cover is ok with you guys. No cover could ever be perfect for this book. I know this. There are certain books, this being one, for which one could, theoretically, just envisage cover after cover, all incorporeal, safe from the press rollers, lovely abstractions, covers which, asymptotically, inch ever closer to the text itself, to the book's quiddity, until the cover becomes the text, and they are indistinguishable, cover and text, text and cover, like a man staring at an axolotl in the jardin des plantes for so long that he finds himself, eventually, sporting webbed feet and living on the wrong side of the glass.

But one does find, (out in the world) that one has to, at some point, cease envisioning—which is to say that things must sometimes be made. At least, when the book date comes around, one must produce a cover. Perhaps not the cover. But a cover.

I don't think i will stop making Hopscotch covers, though. Even after this Hopscotch cover is printed. As Cortázar writes: “I realized that searching was my symbol, the emblem of those who go out at night with nothing in mind, the motives of a destroyer of compasses.” The emblem of this book may also be "searching," and this book, this novel, may be a destroyer of covers. (I should have tried a ruined compass for this cover. Is it too late? It is.) But please be at peace with this one, this cover, Brent, Sam, for now at least. And maybe we three will dust off our maté gourds and gather around on some violet evening yet to come, and talk about what might have been the cover for Hopscotch, what might someday be a cover for Hopscotch, and we will imagine a plastic world, full of transient covers, "full of wondrous chance, an elastic sky, a sun that suddenly is missing or remains fixed or changes its shape.” Or perhaps we will lay out all the covers, all possible covers, down upon the sidewalk, and throw a pebble, and see which one, of the infinitudes, it lands on.


Pantheon. Going to press this week—in stores in about four weeks or so. I'll let you know.

The Cave

Plato's Republic as 1971 Chermayeff & Geismer PanAm's World poster.

"Come for the flickering shadows—stay for the theory of forms."

For Vintage Books.