Quirky flights of fantasy and the literary imagination--in which Borges is alternately a figure of substance and a fabrication--occupy this surreal tale of a disenchanted academic on a lecture tour of the Far East, from German novelist Kîpf in his US debut. Books are the only reality for the professor, whose area of specialization is ``Lusitanics,'' which he succinctly describes as ``the science of loss.'' He measures all that exists by its superior formulation in literature, and has a special affinity for the works of Borges, Cervantes, and Conrad--to such a degree that his own travels evoke comparisons with those of Don Quixote or Conrad's Almayer. An airborne discussion with an Argentinean traveler and fellow admirer of Borges, who believes that the writer was actually an impersonation, the work of a talented actor, fails to be greatly disturbed when the plane loses engine power and begins a rapid descent. That adventure safely concluded, other speculations follow in which Cervantes and Shakespeare are declared one and the same person, and the narrator's family is analyzed for character flaws, while the professor himself is unable to decide whether he should exist in first- or third-person in his narrative. The teeming backdrop of the Portuguese colony of Macao adds to the mÇlange of impressions, contributing to the sensory overload of the real and the speculative that culminates in a series of dreamlike encounters with Borges--or his doppelgÑnger--in a dimly lit hotel corridor, as each man attempts to use the toilet undisturbed. A literary curiosity: intricate enough to be challenging, but ultimately too full of itself to sustain more than an academic interest.