Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

Ficciones is a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, the preeminent Argentinian writer, essayist, poet.

Synopsis from
Goodreads provides:
Reading Jorge Luis Borges is an experience akin to having the top of one's head removed for repairs. First comes the unfamiliar breeze tickling your cerebral cortex; then disorientation, even mild discomfort; and finally, the sense that the world has been irrevocably altered--and in this case, rendered infinitely more complex. First published in 1945, his Ficciones compressed several centuries' worth of philosophy and poetry into 17 tiny, unclassifiable pieces of prose.

Penny's Take: 3.75/5☆

I want to say most of that description is true. I'm not sure if my world has been irrevocably altered but I will say that this collection definitely made me uncomfortable and tested my patience and the limits of my imagination. And it may very well be that I haven't reached that level of enlightenment and why I am not singing the high praises of Ficciones. I found it difficult at times to follow as sometimes there's no logic to some of these stories and perhaps that's what makes them special. But for me, I think I needed more clarity. I won't say I didn't enjoy myself because there were definitely a few short stories that I found very interesting, especially ones that provided a "twist" or a reveal within the last paragraph or line (The Circular Ruins; The Garden of Forking Paths; The Form of the Sword; Death and the Compass). There were a few that had really interesting premises to begin with--Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; Funes, the Memorious; Three Versions of Judas; The Secret Miracle. And there were some that weren't I didn't quite like (or understand) but what Borges did is quite unique, something I'm not used to--he told stories as if they were real reports or news blurb. In some instances he created a fictional review / essay on a fictional author or topic, one may think is real but in reality, it's straight from Borges' imagination.

This was hard for me to rate because 3.5 felt too low and 4.0 felt too high. I can't claim to be a book snob and I think this is a perfect example of why I can't. But if you are, then this may be the right book for you.

No comments: