“We have dreamt the world. We have dreamt it as firm, mysterious, ubiquitous in space and durable in time: but in its architecture we have allowed tenuous and eternal crevices of unreason which tell us it is false.”
Labyrinths, a book of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, is dense. Neutron star dense. Its overwhelming scope makes little moments feel massive, as Borges can use ten pages to create what would take others hundreds.
He tries to make you process the impossible as plausible, and the results are mind-bending.
Despite the grand ambitions and heady concepts, the style here is smooth. Borges’ prose is academic and understated, so things never feel (unintentionally) frustating. Erudition comes roaring out of this thing like heat, so it can take a while to adjust; you may want to shut it and cool off occasionally, or you’ll lose focus. But oh, it’s worth it.
The stories here are so varied in theme, tone, and genre, that I can see just about any of them being someone’s favourite from the collection. Not every one will stay with you, and some you might even find boring if they’re not written in a style you appreciate, but they all have extremely creative and well-thought-out ideas. A few, like “The Immortal”, “The Circular Ruins”, and “The House of Asterion”, are some of the greatest short stories you’re likely to read.