In this elegant little memoir, winner of the Prix du Livre en Poitou-Charentes in 2003, Alberto Manguel recalls his visits with the famous literary master, Jorge Luis Borges, in Buenos Aires during the 1960s. When the two men first met in a bookstore, the blind Borges asked Manguel if he would be willing to read aloud to him in his apartment. The younger man agreed and thus began a fascinating friendship, one that gives the reader an intimate view into the arcane, magical life of one of the 20th century's greatest writers.
Using a simple but effective structure, Manguel mixes present tense anecdotes of his time with Borges--"memories of memories of memories"--with reflections on the Argentine writer's work. Manguel is a master of style--in one long, beautifully constructed sentence he writes of how Borges spoke of his blindness from the points-of-view of history, science, superstition, and elegy ("blindness and old age were different ways of being alone," Manguel writes). The author enumerates Borges's wide-ranging and manifold reading interests; records his acute, extravagant intelligence; and reveals his prejudices and his prodigious memory of the written word, which seemed more real to Borges than his daily life. Manguel reminds the reader of the fantastic ideas behind many of the Argentine's short stories and poems: that a single book, for example, contains all others because a book is nothing but the rearrangement of twenty-some letters. This exquisite little book, printed on fine paper, should be read slowly and savoured. --Mark Frutkin
For those who enjoy the written word, and especially for those who enjoy the fantastic writing of Borges, Manguel's book is confirmation of the pleasure that words can bring, whether to one of the greatest readers and writers of the 20th century or to a young man who would become one of Canada's most acclaimed writers.
...what ultimately binds Borges and Manguel as subject and author is that they see themselves as readers first and writers second. This is what makes With Borges
so uniquely readable.
This is a lovely book. It's an exquisite, tautly written memoir of the last years of one great writer, as told by another.
Manguel dazzling reveals Borges by subtracting from the possible stories about him, allowing Borges to remain the grand puzzle he always was...Manguel's masterful book contains an eerie, lingering power...