• Borges and Me

  • An Encounter
  • By: Jay Parini
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (112 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this evocative work of what the author in his afterword calls “a kind of novelistic memoir”, Jay Parini takes us back 50 years, when he fled the United States for Scotland - in flight from the Vietnam War and desperately in search of his adult life. There, through unlikely circumstances, he meets the famed Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges.

Borges - visiting his translator in Scotland - is in his 70s, blind and frail. When Borges hears that Parini owns a 1957 Morris Minor, he declares a long-held wish to visit the Highlands, where he hopes to meet a man in Inverness who is interested in Anglo-Saxon riddles. As they travel, stopping at various sites of historical interest, the charmingly garrulous Borges takes Parini on a grand tour of Western literature and ideas, while promising to teach him about love and poetry. As Borges’s idiosyncratic world of labyrinths, mirrors, and doubles shimmers into being, their escapades take a surreal turn.

Borges and Me is a classic road novel, based on true events. It’s also a magical mystery tour of an era, like our own, in which uncertainties abound, and when - as ever - it’s the young and the old who hear voices and dream dreams.

©2020 Jay Parini (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“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)

"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)

What listeners say about Borges and Me

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Super Sexist

I wanted to love this book. I was put off from the start of the author's description of his mother, then the introduction of a young woman he's interested is straight out of "men writing women." I stayed with it right up until the implication of date rape after pot brownies. No thanks.

8 people found this helpful

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Caution: Genius ahead

If you are a young person thinking about becoming a writer, you should be warned. This book about a young aspiring writer may discourage you from pursuing such a profession. Or, it may inspire you to work even harder to perfect your skills and learn your trade. It may discourage you, because it is so wonderfully crafted to an extent that one would ask, "How can I ever write such a book?" Parini is an exceptionally capable writer. He challenges the reader, entertains, educates, and even gives the reader a laugh or three. He makes the reader think about war, religion, love, time, eternity, relations, human growth and death. On each page, the reader is challenged to reconsider old beliefs and wonder about where they came from. One of the most interesting things Parini examines is originality. He asserts, or Borges asserts, that everything has been written before, and everything will be written again. This seems to be very likely. If you have ever learned a foreign language, you know that you cannot speak that language fluently until you have memorized, internalized, thousands of phrases each of which expresses a whole sentence or even paragraph. When you write in your native language, you are using a collection of tens of thousands of phrases that you learned along the road to literacy. So, how can what you write be considered original? Even the thoughts, ideas and concepts you put forward are things you have learned somewhere. Aristotle said that there is no original thought. Parini wants to examine that concept. Indeed, I think it may be the focal topic of the book. If you have the temerity to write for others, be modest. You are simply reproducing in new words, or even the same words, the thoughts of others. But also be in awe of all the wisdom that precedes you. Try to write with that awe. Mr. Parini has done that. And we are all the better.

6 people found this helpful

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A road trip I didn’t want to end!

I wanted to send this book to 10 friends. Vivid and rich details and a truly remarkable tale of youth and tenderness, misadventures and good fortune. The narrative is poetic and inspirational and in some places quite hilarious.

5 people found this helpful

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A Gift

Heard the interview with the author on the podcast Bookworm. Haven't seen (or heard) any other reviews (or interviews) that come close to describing this book. I am already listening to it again.

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Georgie

As in all things Borges, memory and myth are interwoven with literature in a loving way found in few other authors. You don't read him, but hear him speak of another world, country or city, and he speaks to you in welcoming tones as if you entered an exclusive club.

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Unexpected

As a random pick I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into. I had never heard of Borges or Jay Parini. Fortunately it was a trip I am glad I went on. The storytelling is marvelous and the narration is perfect. My next listen is obviously Labyrinths. If you want to take a road trip with some interesting travel mates take this journey.

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exceptional!

6 stars. favorite of 2021! highly recommend. place to the top of your audible list.

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Moving, transformative

A slow start allows for the introduction of a cast of vivid, compelling characters who welcome Borges to Scotland. The writer’s adventures there made me laugh out loud one minute and contemplate the deepest of life’s mysteries the next. A remarkable book, beautifully realized.

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A literary journey

This is a unique recollection and retelling of a master writer traveling with a young anguished would be author. I never heard of Borges or Jay Parini but their venture is immortal. Don Quixote plays out in Scotland for a short journey.