Arts & Leisure

Travel to Scotland with Borges and Parini

JAY PARINI WILL discuss his book “Borges and Me: An Encounter" with Emerson College professor Rosario Swanson during the Brattleboro Literary Festival’s literary cocktail hour on Friday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m.

On Friday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m., the Brattleboro Literary Festival continues its 20th anniversary year with a little literary armchair travel. Pour your favorite drink and join us on a rollicking road trip with Weybridge author Jay Parini, and a discussion of his book “Borges and Me: An Encounter.”In 1971, Parini was an aspiring poet and graduate student of literature at University of St. Andrews in Scotland; he was also in flight from being drafted into service in the Vietnam War. One day his friend and mentor, Alastair Reid, asked Parini if he could play host for a “visiting Latin American writer” while he attended to business in London. He agreed — and that “writer” turned out to be the aged and eccentric master of literary compression and metaphysics, whose books set the stage for the magical realism movement in the the 20th century, Argentine poet, writer and translator Jorge Luis Borges. About whom Parini knew literally nothing. 
Borges was blind, talkative, vital and up for adventure. What ensued was a seriocomic romp across the Scottish landscape that Borges insisted he must “see,” all the while declaiming and reciting from the literary encyclopedia that was his head, and Parini’s eventual reckoning with his vocation and personal fate. 
“I’m delighted to be giving this talk on Zoom, where I’ll talk about my adventures with the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges in 1971, when I drove him around in the highlands of Scotland,” Parini added. “It was a wild ride, to put it mildly; and I hope my neighbors in Addison County will tune in.”
Parini will be in conversation with author and Emerson College professor Rosario Swanson. From The Guardian on Jan. 24, Booker Prize-winning author Richard Flanagan answers the question, what was the last book last that made you laugh? His answer “Jay Parini’s ‘Borges and Me,’ a road novel, partly true, in which the youthful, earnest would-be poet Parini has foisted upon him the aged, blind writer of whose works Parini is unaware and made to drive him around Scotland in 1969.” 
“For readers who already admire Borges, this memoir will be a delicious treat,” commented New York Times columnist Michael Greenberg. “For those who have yet to read him, Parini provides the perfect entry point to a writer who altered the way many think of literature.” 
This event is free and open to the public. Register at bit.ly/LitCocktail7.

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