Monday, February 07, 2011

Review: The Book of Fantasy

The Book of FantasyThe Book of Fantasy by Jorge Luis Borges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The term "Fantasy" in modern culture seems to have become something of a twisted niche - often now associated with lands of Tolkien-style creatures and epic battles. But this collection of short stories, put together by Borges, Ocampo and Casares, returns to the roots of what it means to be "fantastic". The compendium, gathered from all over time and space, is large and diverse, but brought together through a simple desire to explore the imagination.

Folk tales, Chinese dream stories, ghost stories, strange animals, weird letters, bizarre furniture... I especially enjoyed some of the really short tales, a couple of pages long. Some of the stories are a little hardgoing, but a) none of them are so long you can't just read through them to the next one, b) some of the turn out to be great stories by the end.

I was going to read this then pass it on, but think I'll keep it now. Worth picking up a copy if you see it.

For the record, I particularly enjoyed these (in case you haven't time to read them all, or just want to Google some):

The Drowned Giant - J.G. Ballard
Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius - Borges himself, always a classic
House Taken Over - Julio Cortazar
Earth's Holocaust - Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Monkey's Paw - W. W. Jacobs
The Wizard Passed Over - Infante Don Juan Manuel
Who Knows? - Guy de Maupassant
The Blind Spot - Barry Perowne
The Encounter - an old Chinese story
Macario - B Traven
The Infinite Dream of Pao-yu - Ta'ao Chan

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