Sunday, January 12, 2014

"He was my brother"

The letter below was sent to the American writer Toby Olson on October 1, 1971. A few weeks earlier the poet Paul Blackburn, Julio Cortázar's translator, agent, and friend, had died in Cortland, New York. The letter was written in English, with a few minor errors; it was addressed from Paris.
Dear Toby,

I found your letter last night when coming back from Vienna. You see, I knew that Paul was dead, I had the feeling all the time since I got Joan and Sara's letters. The only thing I learned from you was the date, September 13. He was my brother, Toby, he was a wonderful friend, he was the first and most wonderful of cronopios, who he loved, who he made live in English. Toby, he sent me a letter, his last, in July 3, in full summer, he sent it to my small rancho in Vaucluse where he and Joan spent two or three weeks in 69, and where he finished his translation of the cronopios book. I was unhappy then and he came and he made me laugh and forget a lot of unpleasant things. He gave me hell with a tape of the Beatles which he played for hours and hours until I cried for mercy. We were so happy, we drank so much pastis, we read poetry, his and Latin American poetry, and he promised to come back in two years. Ah, Toby, is so tough and my English is so bad, forgive me, I just wanted to tell how I loved my brother, how I feel now. I'd like to be there with you and Jerry and Schwerner, in a way I'll be there, please count me there, Toby. I send you a photograph of Paul's last letter. He wrote a poem about the way he had to drive to get to my rancho. If you want to read that poem I'll be there to listen to it, with all his friends. I can't write no more, forgive me.


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