when life sends you viruses…

… you make virusade, of course.

This is a not-very-funny way to say that Alma is sick. We’re not sure what she has, yet. She’s been in for several tests which, due both to the fact that these tests do indeed take time and also due to negligence which would be lawsuit worthy in a litigious country with a functioning legal system, haven’t yet yielded conclusive results.

So much for the bad news.

In an attempt to keep Alma entertained, I’ve been reading to her.  On her request, we started with Borges.

I think she chose “El inmortal,” which I’d read it two or three times before. Although short, it rewards rereading.  Certainly in my case: since the first time I read it, six or seven years ago, I’ve become a wannabe classicist. Much detail that is lost on someone without a grounding in the classics contributes a lot to the story.  I’d call my grounding very shaky still, to be sure, but it is better than it was; my appreciation of “El inmortal” has risen accordingly.

The next night, I read her several poems and short stories from El hacedor. We started with “Borges y yo,” Alma’s choice. What struck me about this piece—is it a story?—was how much better it is when read aloud.  “El inmortal,” although fantastic in both senses of the word, is no better or worse when read aloud.  Not so with “Borges y yo”; it is difficult to overstate just how much it—again, I ask: is it a story? an essay? a poem?—is improved by being read aloud.  You should try it, whether at home alone, with a reading partner, or anywhere where talking to yourself is accepted.

(I would be interested to learn whether the translations are similarly improved. I also don’t know whether there’s a volume equivalent to El hacedor in other langauges.)

After “Borges y yo” we skipped around a bit. I hadn’t remembered (if I’d ever noticed in the first place) just how similar “Un diálogo sobre un diálogo” is to “Borges y yo.” But if both pieces are short (and they are, just over and just under a single page) the themes and questions underlying both are surely worth revisiting. Certainly a careful reading of one should be followed by a careful reading of the other.

What other authors have written on similar themes in fictional format and at length? I’d like to read them.

Last night we started “Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.” This is probably Borges’ funniest work. Unfortunately, Alma was too zonked to really appreciate it. We’ll pick up where we left off some other time when she’s more alert.