“Mr Palomar” by Italo Calvino

palomar1Mr. Palomar sets out to examine every possible aspect of his life and the world around him, trying to name everything and categorise everything scientifically. Of course he fails, and it’s in the episodes of life squirming away from his rigid attempts at classification that the absurd humour comes.

The arrangement of the book corresponds to Palomar’s classification attempts, being broken up into sections, sub-sections and sub-sub-sections, with each section having three sub-sections and each sub-section having three sub-sub-sections dealing with three different categories of experience. There is no real plot to speak of.

The result, for me, was that although some of the details were beautiful and the descriptions insightful, it felt like notes for a book rather than a book itself. Each sub-section is just two or three pages, and the book itself is little over 100 pages, so no idea seems to get fully developed. You end up with a collection of fragments, each one often quite clever and even entertaining, but not seeming to add up to any kind of meaningful whole.

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There is 1 comment

  1. Thanks for the insight. I’ve been wanting to read this. Actually, I’ve been wanting to read everything Calvino that I haven’t yet. I definitely see what you mean. I’d like to still give it a try though. I kind of like (Btw, I’m still thinking of books in the present tense that I liked, and will get back to you on that.)

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