I’ve embarked on the impossible task of writing separate reviews for each of the “fictions” written by Jorge Luis Borges. Yes, all 101 of them.
I’ll add new posts to this roundup page, so that we can all see how far I get…
This first story is about a man, Lazarus Morell, who lives in the deep South of the United States during slavery, making money by tricking slaves into thinking he’s helping them escape, only to keep reselling them to new plantations. In typical historical/scholarly/deliberately obtuse fashion, Borges does not begin with a dramatic episode in Morell’s life – he doesn’t even begin with Morell’s life at all. He starts with what he calls the “Remote Cause”… Read More
In one sense, The Improbable Impostor Tom Castro is a simple story of an impostor claiming the identity of a long-lost aristocrat, playing on the desperation of the missing man’s mother to deceive her and claim the Tichborne family fortune. But this is Borges, so nothing is simple… Read More
Part 3: The Widow Ching—Pirate
Before I read Borges, I used to think there was a sharp dividing line between fiction and nonfiction. But Jorge Luis Borges is constantly blurring the lines and playing with the forms, so that it’s intentionally unclear what’s real and what’s invented, and even those categories come to seem less important. The whole story of The Widow Ching—Pirate, for example, is based on fact, but with the details changed at will… Read More
Monk Eastman’s journey from petty street thug to bouncer to Tammany Hall enforcer to the head of a criminal gang of 1,200 people is worth following, and there are plenty of eye-catching descriptions. But more than all this, what I like about these stories is the way Borges undercuts the glamour and heroism that we have come to expect from stories of pirates and gangsters and other outlaws, and instead shows us their human frailty… Read More
That’s it so far! Why not read along with me to help me finish this marathon? Here’s the edition I’m reading: