Arts & Leisure

The Book: “Borges and Me” by Jay Parini

As a young man, Jay Parini decided to make a profession of writing. His decision to “live deliberately” as Thoreau put it, started with graduate studies at St. Andrews in Scotland, which also effectively kept him out of Vietnam. Once in Scotland, Alastair Reid, a writer and professor who takes Parini under his garrulous wing, requests he look after Reid’s impetuous houseguest, Jorge Luis Borges, the inimitable Argentinian writer, for a week. And Borges wants to see the Scottish highlands, except, in addition to being deliberately obscure, he is also quite elderly and blind. It’s a decidedly delightful adventure. Parini, tasked with being Borges’ eyes, describes what he sees as best he can, “fetching images and metaphors, noting the bright lakes, the fertile land…” and Borges imparts his wisdoms about life, love, literature and marauding writers. Parini’s characterization of himself as a young person is so astute, he brings his younger self to life on the page — a sheltered young man, beset by anxiety, but determined, opening himself up to new experiences. This memoir, that records this transformative journey of the local Weybridge author, is rife with literary references and is just a joy to read, full of very humorous anecdotes I will not spoil for you here. 
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
 
Memoirs infused with literary figures
Begin Again, by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
The Real Lolita, by Sarah Weinman
How to Live, by Sarah Bakewell
Looking for Lorraine, by Imani Perry
Minor Characters, by Joyce Johnson
Austen Years, by Rachel Cohen
What Is the Grass, by Mark Doty
In Faulkner’s Shadow, by Lawrence Wells
The Toni Morrison Book Club, by Juda Bennett 

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