Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi

by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy-Casares. Dutton, $10.95.Casares.Dutton, $10.95. Don Isidro Parodi is in jail for murder but, Argentina (or at least Mr. Borges’s Argentina) being what it is, he is permitted to receive any number of visitors. These people report their troubles, which usually consist of a corpse on the premises, and Parodi, after consideration, explains who did the killing and why. In itself, each problem is an outrageous, stripped-to-the-bone parody of a particular type of detective-story plot, but woven through the surface burlesque is a pattern of sharper satire on more deserving targets. Mr. Borges and/or Mr. Bioy-Casares (one never knows quite what to make of this partnership) use a cosh on the detective story, but pretentious artistic types, pompous scholars, phony poets, and all forms of government authority get the stiletto. The word “devious” is inadequate for the games these gentlemen play. “Labyrinthine” is more like it. Translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni.

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