John's Reviews > Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
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's review
Sep 06, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: avatars-gods-energy-sources, short-story-masters
Recommended to John by: maybe Arturo Arias
Recommended for: adults who think, read, & savor
Read in February, 1973

BOAR-hez? The name met with blank looks, I was shocked to discover, when I mentioned it on this year's first day of fiction workshop. Look, the man realigned the spine of Creative Writing. He did it with a feather touch, too, a mere dozen or so swiftly unfolding ironies, calibrated for maximum contortion of whatever you expect. The range of reference, to be sure, is encyclopedic -- literally: the Britannica features in a few of his essentials, like "Tlon, Uqbar, and Orbis Tertius" -- yet the core enigma in every piece demands nothing more than a daring imagination, and takes a reader to root questions of what's real ("The Secret Miracle"), or what's God ("The Circular Ruins"), or just what we ourselves consist of (every damn piece here, but "Funes the Memorious" to name an exemplar) . This volume also culls a few of the brief essays, termites that keep on gutting our notion of experience long after we're done reading (first suggestion, "The Wall and the Books"), plus a number of the even-briefer "Parables," including the essential "Borges and I." In that piece, the opening keeps looping from back of brain to front: "The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to...;" and the ending could be anyone's deathbed confession: "I do not know which of us has written this page." But it's the stories that shatter a sensibility into the most pieces, and LABYRINTHS tops off its other excellences by offering the best translations, free of tin-eared misconstruing, or backing-away from complexity. Borges may be our most electrifying Visiting Writer, his speculations coming from the far planets but inviting the library of mankind into our most insipid conversations, and as such he's more crucial than ever, now as our chatter bounces off the satellites. He goes face to face with the Unknowable and carves out elegant shapes.
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04/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by M (last edited Sep 07, 2008 11:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

M A book that I'll read this year. Thanks for your review, John.

John Michelle, c'etait mon plaisir. Come toujors, je te remercie pour le mots justes.

A la prochaine, John

message 3: by M (new) - rated it 5 stars

M Quel plaisir pour le lecteur!

A la prochaine, Michelle

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