These short stories are beautifully efficient metaphysical explorations coated in deliciously erudite magical realism.

Borges conveys the same imagination and creativity that other writers manage to put down over the course of hundreds of pages, in sheer tens instead. He is brilliant in formulating dense stories that showcase his erudite understanding of European literature and history, which would be extremely impressive for the best of European writers, but this man also hails from Argentina. Reading his work with only half an eye is neither doing Borges nor yourself justice. His collected fiction remains ripe for many re-readings.

Borges stories are unique, with regards to pieces of fiction, insofar as their ability to conjure major life ponderings within me. At times it felt akin to the philosophical out-of-the box engagement with my own mind that psychedelics may give me. This makes the choice to use M.C. Escher's Other World as cover illustration for my 2000 Penguin edition even more apt.

Other World by M.C. Escher

Many of Borges's stories play with perspective. He places us into individuals or beasts without our knowledge, and over the course of the story he slowly unravels the thoughts and feelings until we start realizing that we are in a place we know all too well. Either from mythology, religion, or simply life itself. Borges is masterful at rationing knowledge and information to build maximal tension and interest.

The introduction written by translator Andrew Hurley makes me want to start my own literary magazines.

From Borges afterword:

A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that that patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.

From The Other Death:

He talked about Illescas, Tupambae, Masoller, and did so with such perfectly formed periods, and so vividly, that I realized that he'd told these same stories many times before -- it all made me fear that behind his words hardly any memories remained.