My first Borges book, or shall I say, "My first Borges experience!"
Labyrinths is broken down to three sections: Fictions, Essays, and Parables. It starts complicated enough with the first story, and despite the false appearance to grow simpler, it gets more complicated as the book progresses. These are not short stories; these are conundrums blending fact, fiction, reality, and dreams. I cannot begin to fathom the amount of research that went to his stories, as even today, with the World Wide Web it would have taken me years to find and understand the vast amount of 'data' he throws around as if nothing. Jorge Luis Borges was a genius, a mad genius.
There were times when, while reading the book, I did not know whether to continue reading or whether to blow my head off. The only other book that made me feel this way was Anacalypsis by Sir Godfrey Higgins. Borges masterfully manipulates dream-like states and combines them with historical facts, mind-boggling revelations, and all this while looking at things from angles one would normally not consider. To be honest, I'm not even sure I understood this book completely (if that is even possible) but I already know I'll have to reread it.
There were stories and essays that made me question my own sanity, my own understanding of the world. There were beautiful stories that I read twice (The Library of Babel; The Secret Miracle; The Immortal; Deutsches Requiem; The Zahir). And then there were pieces that just blew me away and left me puzzled (The wall and the Books; A New Refutation of Time, for example).
In the end, I feel I have nothing new to say about this book that has not been said before. I'm left perplexed, yet strangely satisfied. I'm left wondering while my mind wanders, hungry for more yet unable to swallow one more morsel for fear of exploding. This will not be my favorite book of all time, it will not go down as the most memorable read of the year either...but...Borges, you shook my world in a profound, inexplicable way.