A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 9
Welcome to our new weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
All things happen to oneself, and happen precisely, precisely now. Century follows century, yet events occur only in the present; countless men in the air, on the land and sea, yet everything that truly happens, happens to me…
“The Garden of Forking Paths” is a thrilling tale of murder and espionage. Dr. Yu Tsun is chased across England while attempting to alert the Germans to the location of a secret British armory… You know what, scratch that. It doesn’t really describe the story very well. Maybe it’s less a spy story and more a tale of literary detection, as Dr. Tsun manages to discover the hidden meaning of his ancestor T’sui Pen’s baffling novel, The Garden of Forking Paths.
Though, now that I think about it, the brilliant Sinologist Dr. Stephen Albert probably plays the biggest role in the tale, what with discovering the location of T’sui Pen’s long lost labyrinth and all. Besides, the story’s real import is just Borges’ cleverness. It’s about Time and it’s contradictions, and Borges packs its 30 pages with post-modern, meta-fictional musings.
No, that’s not right either. “The Garden of Forking Paths” is just an old-fashioned frame story. Dr. Tsun’s narrative is, after all, merely a document nesting inside a history of an obscure battle of July 1916. But on the other hand…
OK, OK, you probably get it by now. “The Garden of Forking Paths” is complicated. It has all of that stuff together and more. It’s also beautifully written and constructed. It’s got interesting characters, a fascinating setting, a quick pace, and some serious thought behind it. It will appeal to those looking for something deep and appeal equally to those just looking for a good read. It’s among the best stories in one of the best collections of stories you’ll find on our shelves: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges. Check it out next time you’re in the library.
Review by Matthew