A memoir of a remarkable road trip through Scotland with Borges, from award-winning author Jay Parini
Fifty years ago, Jay Parini fled the United States for Scotland. He was in frantic flight from the Vietnam War and desperately in search of his adult life. There, through unlikely circumstance, he met famed Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges.
Borges was blind, in his seventies and frail. Parini was asked to look after him while his translator was unexpectedly called away to a family emergency. When Borges heard that Parini owned a 1957 Morris Minor, he declared a long-held wish to see the Scottish Highlands and this unlikely couple soon set out. As they travelled, the charmingly garrulous Borges took Parini on a grand tour of western literature and ideas while promising to teach him about love and poetry. As Borges’s world of labyrinths, mirrors and doubles shimmered into being, their escapades took a surreal turn.
Borges and Me is a classic road story, but also a magical 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.
“This is a jewel of a book. Very funny, clever, moving, luminous with love of literature and landscape. Parini’s portrait of both Borges and Scotland is exquisite, deeply affectionate, sometimes comically irritable … The young Parini’s painful writing ambitions are beautifully wrought … It’s hard to conceive of a how an old and frail blind man could have had such psychological force, such unworldly innocence, such redeeming sway over others, but Jay Parini persuades us fabulously in a high-style Borgesian marriage of fiction and history”
See more reviews
”Praise for Jay Parini: Inspired … a piercing, magnificent novel”
“A poignant and eloquent vision of the great critic’s personality and fate”
“An exciting adventure story … wholly emblematic of our dark age”
“The friends who recall Benjamin come across as vivid individuals, but it is Benjamin himself who dominates the book, and he is wonderfully, infuriatingly alive, an intellectual hopelessly out of touch with his ailing body, curiously and tragically blind to the Europe disintegrating around him”
the Sunday Times
Jay Parini is Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College, Vermont. His six novels include The Last Station and The Apprentice Lover. In addition to biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost and William Faulkner, he has written a volume of essays on literature and politics, as well as The Art of Teaching. He edited The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and writes regularly for the Guardian and other publications.