by Luis Fernando Verissimo

In recognition of certain literary theories that contend that any portion of a text -- no matter how small -- suggests the text itself in its entirety, I did not finish Luis Fernando Verissimo's new book (a mystery) before writing about it.  I'd hate to ruin the ending with metatext, which, let's face it, happens far too often these days. 

As the title suggests, BORGES AND THE ETERNAL ORANGUTANS is a deliberate homage to several authors and literary traditions, including Borges, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and the mad arab himself, Abdul Alhazred.  A murder occurs in a room locked from the inside (the author remarks upon the delightful coincidence) in a hotel at the annual Edgar Allan Poe convention.  With several suspects and strange literary/symbolic clues in abundance, the protagonist and Borges himself unravel this mystery to its surprising solution, dipping (nearly) pedantically into subjects ranging from mythology to cryptography and, finally, the Necronomicon itself. 

Intended for great fans of Borges, Doyle, Poe, etc., this book entertains the reader with a solid background in these authors and an appreciation of the exuberance of many modern and contemporary South American narrators.  The book is such a successful homage to its inspirations it creates a need to justify its own existence -- why read this when there are so many other wonderful things to read?  For someone familiar with the entire libraries of these authors, BORGES AND THE ETERNAL ORANGUTANS is an amusing and entertaining dedication.  But if you haven't read everything the book references, I'd recommend giving this one a miss, and doing just that.

 --Kenton deAngeli