Borges and Me: An Encounter (Hardcover)
An apprentice writer has an entirely unexpected encounter with literary genius Jorge Luis Borges that will profoundly alter his life and work. A poignant and comic literary coming-of-age memoir.
"This is a jewel of a book." --Ian McEwan
In 1971 Jay Parini was an aspiring poet and graduate student of literature at University of St Andrews in Scotland; he was also in flight from being drafted into service in the Vietnam War. One day his friend and mentor, Alastair Reid, asked Jay if he could play host for a "visiting Latin American writer" while he attended to business in London. He agreed--and that "writer" turned out to be the blind and aged and eccentric master of literary compression and metaphysics, Jorge Luis Borges. About whom Jay Parini knew precisely nothing. What ensued was a seriocomic romp across the Scottish landscape that Borges insisted he must "see," all the while declaiming and reciting from the literary encyclopedia that was his head, and Jay Parini's eventual reckoning with his vocation and personal fate.
About the Author
JAY PARINI is a poet, novelist, and biographer who teaches at Middlebury College. His six books of poetry include New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015. He has written eight novels, including The Damascus Road, Benjamin's Crossing, The Apprentice Lover, The Passages of H.M., and The Last Station, the last made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer. His biographical subjects include John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, William Faulkner, and, most recently, Gore Vidal. His nonfiction works include Jesus: The Human Face of God, Why Poetry Matters, and Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America.
“This reminiscence by Parini, who is now a prolific novelist, biographer and poet, brings Borges more sharply to life than any account I’ve read or heard. . .In this sense, the memoir is an important contribution to the biography of a major writer. . .For readers who already admire Borges, this memoir will be a delicious treat. For those who have yet to read him, Parini provides the perfect entry point to a writer who altered the way many think of literature.” —Michael Greenberg, The New York Times Book Review
"A classic comic-philosophical road story, playfully conscious of its own traditions. . .Many of the book’s loveliest passages are pure geography; as he drives, Jay describes to Borges the passing landscapes of Scotland, to which Borges adds literary and historical context. The pressure to capture Scotland in words for the great Jorge Luis Borges forces Jay to think about language in a new way, to “up his game” as a poet, and this artistic journey, occurring alongside their physical journey, becomes the book’s emotional backbone. . .A fun, tightly crafted, tenderhearted literary adventure, an improbable tale that, like many improbable tales, happens to be true." —Martin Riker, The Wall Street Journal
“This is a jewel of a book. Very funny, clever, moving, luminous with love of literature and landscape. Jay Parini’s portrait of both Borges and Scotland is exquisite, deeply affectionate, sometimes comically irritable. He uses all a novelist’s art, all his smoke and mirrors, to let the great man step shambolically from these pages to trap and beguile us, like a modern Ancient Mariner, with his brilliant, freely associative and heady metaphysics and literary table talk. And all his constant demands. My laughter (at poor Parini’s long night in bed with his subject) kept my wife awake. But by the end, I was damp around the eyes; I was sad to let this little cast of characters go. . . I read it in a greedy gulp.” —Ian McEwan
"Borges and Me is a road trip book like no other, written by someone who certainly didn't spend his youth the way I did. I loved every minute of reading it. It's full of wonderful energy and humor, with underpinnings of sadness and seriousness I can't shake." —Ann Beattie
"A tender bond forms between the eccentric sage and his caretaker. . .Fans of both Borges and Parini will delight in this touching coming-of-age memoir. —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A captivating chronicle and homage." —Kirkus Reviews