Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The novel begins on the twenty-fourth of December in Paris. As Juan spends Christmas Eve alone in a gloomy restaurant, he examines the relationship between thought, word, and action and he questions the value of reasoning itself. The deceiving nature of memory is then explored in passages which change swiftly and without warning from a first-to a second-and third-person narrator. Glimpses of specific details of what is going to happen, or has already happened, are introduced mostly through Juan’s thoughts. In the midst of a labyrinthine beginning, which will set the tone of the text, some explanation is provided as to what constitutes the city and the paredros, key elements in the book.
For a great part of the novel, the friends are scattered in different European cities. In London, Marrast, Nicole, Calac, and Polanco amuse themselves at the expense of the British and their sense of decorum. Yet if a museum and the streets of London offer the possibilities of freedom and games, inside their room of the Gresham Hotel Marrast and Nicole live their last days together. Nicole is in love with Juan, and Marrast becomes the frustrated witness of her melancholy. Their exasperating state of mind is portrayed carefully by the use of dialogue, inner reflections, or letters.
At the same time, Juan is translating for an international conference in Vienna, accompanied by Tell. Tell, the crazy Dane, as Juan calls her, makes him forget the treachery of...
(The entire section is 797 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Unlike Oliveira in Hopscotch, who plays a game in order to save himself from reality, the characters in 62: A Model Kit are played like pawns on a chessboard. The novel is a juxtaposition of the protagonist’s experiences in two different but related territories called the Zone and the City. The former is a meeting place for the group of characters while the City has no geographic limitation, only high sidewalks and a hotel with labyrinthine rooms.
The novel’s protagonist is actually a group of characters. These characters are deliberately sketchy. Echoes of one another, they perceive a subliminal level of reality and intuit associations that reveal what life is about. The associations, in constant, dreamlike metamorphosis, justify the novel’s chronological order of episodes and the utilization of private symbols. The opening scene gives a clear example of how events reverberating in the mind of a character initiate a chain of associations.
Juan, an Argentine interpreter living in Paris, is seated in the Polidor restaurant facing a wall of mirrors when he overhears a customer asking for château saignant, a rare steak. These words remind Juan of a book he just bought by Michel Butor in which he found a description of Niagara Falls by another Frenchman, François René de Chateaubriand, the author of Atala (1801; English translation, 1802). They also remind him of a related phrase, château...
(The entire section is 373 words.)