Posts tagged italo calvino

“Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino

I thought I would have liked this more than I did. I like most of Calvino’s books, and in this one the writing is absolutely beautiful, the observations on cities are clever and insightful, and the structure is innovative. But somehow, for me, all of these ingredients didn’t add up to a very rewarding whole. I think the problem was the lack of plot. The structure of the book is a series of one- or two-page descriptions of different imaginary cities, with occasional philosophical conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai… Read More

“t zero” by Italo Calvino

This is a bit of a strange mix of stories. Some are narrated by Qfwfq, who tells in first person stories of his experiences as various entities such as a unicellular organism at the creation of the universe. Others read like a well-written, literary version of a physicist’s thought experiments. All are interesting and thought-provoking, but get a little bogged down in places because of the very foreignness of the experiences Calvino is describing. In “Mitosis”, for example, Qfwfq is telling of his time as a unicellular organism, but at… Read More

“If on a winter’s night a traveler” by Italo Calvino

Reviewing this book in the New Yorker, John Updike said that it “manages to charm and entertain the reader in the teeth of a scheme designed to frustrate all reasonable readerly intentions.” I don’t think I can put it any better, so you may want to stop reading now. But I’ll put down the rest of my thoughts anyway. The most striking thing about this book is that addresses you, the reader, directly: the opening line is, “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a… Read More