Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Aleph - Jorge Luis Borges

the aleph
jorge luis borges
c. 1949
134 pages
completed 9/2/2009

read for: classics challenge, penguin classics

*may contain spoilers*

A collection of short stories.

First off, I don't yet know how I should review short stories. I don't read short stories very often. I don't tend to like short stories. I just feel like there's not enough time for anything to happen, for characters to become involved, and so the story is supposed to be more about the writing, the beauty of the prose, than the story itself. Which I don't enjoy.

As for this set of short stories...this was just not for me. I can appreciate why this is known as great literature, but I don't do well with surrealism and metaphysics and philosophy. I don't always understand what the author is trying to say. And I think that happened a LOT while I was reading this. So I got frustrated and in turn just kind of powered through the book not really caring whether I understood what I was reading or not.

2/5

2 comments:

Lezlie said...

I have trouble with short stories, too. I've been watching some DVDs on studying lit though, and I'm going to give them a more serious go in the coming year. As for this book, as they say: at least you gave it a try, right?

Lezlie

darchildre said...

I find that, for me, a short story has to be about idea, rather than plot or characterization. As you say, there's not enough time in a short story to develop character or, often, to tell a satisfying story. But a short story can fully express an idea, if done well.

I think that tends to work better in genres I'm interested in, rather than stuff you tend to like. Horror and sci-fi are often built on an idea or image first, with character (and sometimes plot) coming in later as an afterthought, and so short stories tend to work particularly well in those genres. (Indeed, some of the authors who are considered "classic horror authors" - Poe, Lovecraft, MR James - wrote short stories almost exclusively.) You seem more interested in character and story than idea and image and it's harder to get those across in a limited space.

I keep meaning to read Borges. Maybe I'll steal this from you. 8)