Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo

A review of Luis Fernando Verissimo's Borges e os orangotangos eternos (Borges and the Eternal Orangutans)

Most writers feel passionate about Borges, but few would have the temerity to put the enigmatic sage into their fiction. That's because evoking Borges's presence would likely overwhelm any meager thoughts of their own. Yet Brazilian novelist Luis Fernando Verissimo has such temerity, as well as the talent to pull it off. Borges and The Eternal Orangutans does the master proud. (...)

Everything from the details of the characters' biographies to elusive one-liners like "Geography is destiny" connect when the fictional Borges solves the mystery in a letter that weaves together threads unspooled at the beginning of the book. Of course, solutions engender their own questions, and Borges's final statement -- "Even the most fantastical of stories . . . requires a minimum of verisimilitude" -- makes one wonder whether the similarity of the book's last word and the author's last name is a further hint to further mysteries. In any case, Borges and the Eternal Orangutans is an authentic whodunit as well as a loving homage to its eponymous detective and a serious meditation on the truths that Borges himself lived to reveal, intuit and invent.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Borges and the Eternal Orangutans at

Luis Fernando Verissimo was born in 1936 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the son of author Érico Verissimo. He is a journalist, humorist and novelist.

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