Reading,  Review

Book Review: The Aleph and Other Stories

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This is a strange collection of strange stories. Before now, I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Borges’ work, and I’m still not sure I am, especially since he appears to have been fairly prolific from what I’ve read about him since finishing this.

Not every story in this collection comes under the headings of science fiction or fantasy, at least not when I’m looking at them. But that’s okay. First, it’s good to step out of your comfort zones now and again. Second, to some degree, I enjoyed every story in the book, and that’s not something I can usually say. Third, the historical pieces here capture moments in time that I might not otherwise have considered.

If I had to think about themes running through the collection, I’m probably going to come up with three words: immortality, obsession, and time. Sometimes all three of these run together in a story and sometimes none of them are obvious but there are subtle tendrils here and there.

I’m not going to go through this story by story – plenty of other people have done that, and I’m not sure I have anything meaningful to add, although I suppose if this is the only review you read about this book (please don’t limit yourself here), maybe you’d appreciate at least a little something.

My favourites:

“The Aleph”, the titular story, is about an object that is, “one of the points in space that contains all points”. In fact, it contains every point in space from every angle in perfect clarity. Actually, the story is really about the effect on someone looking into the Aleph.

“The Dead Man” is, oddly to me, an historical piece about a man who believes he is seizing opportunities rather than writing his own epitaph.

“The Man on the Threshold” is also not a speculative fiction piece, but does contain a little bit of mind bleepery, subtle enough that it almost goes by at the time.

Overall rating: 4 stars, almost. I’ll leave it there, but at the same time mention that I wouldn’t want to be a woman in any of Borges’ stories. The writing is wonderful and the stories make you think, but collectively, this survey of Borges’ work is sexist as hell.

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