June 24th, 2011


Book Review: Borges and the Eternal Orangutans, by Luis Fernando Verissimo

'Murder, She Wrote' with Jorge Luis Borges in place of Angela Lansbury and Lovecraftian demons among the suspects.

New Directions Publishing, 2000, 135 pages

From the back cover:

Vogelstein is a loner who has always lived among books. Suddenly, fate grabs hold of his insignificant life and carries him off to Buenos Aires, to a conference on Edgar Allen Poe, the inventor of the modern detective story. There Vogelstein meets his idol, Jorge Luis Borges, and for reasons that a mere passion for literature cannot explain, he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation that involves arcane demons, the mysteries of the Kabbala, the possible destruction of the world, and the Elizabethan magus John Dee's "Eternal Orangutan," which given all the time in the world, would end up writing all the known books in the cosmos. Verissimo's small masterpiece is a literary tour de force and a brilliant mystery novel rolled into one.

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Verdict: Highly recommended for fans of literary murder mysteries, especially if you're a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jorge Luis Borges. If you are not familiar with any of them, however, you may simply find this story exceedingly strange. (But hie thee hence and read some Borges!)