A few weeks ago, I was up in the middle of the night at someone else’s house. I required something to read. Sail by James Patterson served in the role of cereal box. It was about as interesting to read as a cereal box, but without the interesting words like “mononitrate.”
I returned to the bookshelf and found Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges. It was in English! Not that I wouldn’t have tried to read the book in Spanish. I didn’t finish it that night, but WOW! I may have to change my ambition to grow up to be Umberto Eco into growing up to be Borges. If reading Patterson is like scanning a cereal box, Borges is like reading an imaginary cereal box disguised as a novel that exists in many parallel universes at once, and, by the way, someone gets stabbed and cries out in an ancient language that no one has ever spoken. The thumbs-up measure for this book is even higher: I would steal this book (and kind of have, actually, although I will give it back if asked. It’s kind of a permanent borrowing. And I need it to copy bits into my commonplace book, so I’m not really done with it anyway…)
So: next time you need to read something in the middle of the night: Borges. Also good the next morning and afternoon and any time, really.