RandomAnthony's Reviews > The Invention of Morel

The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
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's review
Aug 04, 2010

liked it

I wish I hadn’t read the back of The Invention of Morel before I read the novel. Once I read that Borges, Paz, etc. loved this book I felt like I had to like it. Too much pressure.

Fortunately, I think the The Invention of Morel is strong enough that I would have been a fan without any background knowledge. The book is narrated by a fugitive marooned on an island to which the tides carried him after his escape. A house, chapel, and museum occupy the otherwise-deserted island. Soon, however, people show up, and the narrator, terrified of discovery but fascinated by the group and one woman in particular, works through his own logic and paranoia while trying to discern the identities and motivations of the new arrivals.

The novel’s attraction revolves around the Casares’s intricate structuring of the narrator’s actions and reflections in response to the newcomers. The narrator questions his sanity, flails for reason, attempts to re-center, and slowly, especially in the book’s last third, reflects on immortality and the nature of human interaction. Do people really see each other? Know each other? Can our essence be divorced from our physical forms? What part of us, if any, is immortal, or even present, in our relationships? I also assume I’m reading the influence of this book (first published in 1940) on later writers exploring the same territory, particularly William Gibson with Neuromancer.

The Invention of Morel reads like a book you want to read again, quickly, as soon as you finish the first run through in the same way you want to re-watch an intricate movie a second time and recognize the clues and nuances that drew the reader/viewer into the storyline. I’m glad I read The Invention of Morel; the book kept me focused and engaged in ways I didn’t quite at first understand.

(P.S.: This is the third or fourth book I’ve read from the NYRB Classics imprint. I don’t know who these NYRB people are, putting out these texts I otherwise probably would have never discovered, but I want to kiss them on the lips.)

(P.P.S: Is an 101 page book a novel or novella?)
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Reading Progress

August 4, 2010 – Started Reading
August 4, 2010 – Shelved
Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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JSou I loved this book!

RandomAnthony We must talk when I finish, Jessica...I'm about halfway done, and I'm liking the book, but I have no idea what in goddamn hell is going on.

message 3: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Most of the definitions are singularly unhelpful - e.g., longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel (duh!). For a series I edited, books had to be 120 pages. I've no idea whether that has anything to do with the difference between a novel and a novella.

message 4: by Rachel (new)

Rachel I thought novellas are called so because they had a certain word count.

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