Calvino is on SO many "best of" and "must read" lists that I can't ignore him any longer. Some sources say If on a Winter's Night a Traveler inspired David Mitchell's structure in Cloud Atlas.
Both a comedy and a tragedy, Calvino's "Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: 'Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade.' Alas, after 30 or so pages, he discovers that his copy is corrupted, and consists of nothing but the first section, over and over. Returning to the bookshop, he discovers the volume, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by the Polish writer Bazakbal. Given the choice between the two, he goes for the Pole, as does the Other Reader, Ludmilla. But this copy turns out to be by yet another writer, as does the next, and the next. The real Calvino intersperses 10 different pastiches--stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition--with explorations of how and why we read, make meanings, and get our bearings or fail to. Meanwhile the Reader and Ludmilla try to reach, and read, each other. If on a Winter's Night is dazzling, vertiginous, and deeply romantic." - from Amazon.com
“[Italo Calvino is] one of the world’s best fabulists.” - John Gardner, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“Calvino is a wizard.” - Mary McCarthy, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
“[Calvino] manages to charm and entertain the reader in the teeth of a scheme designed to frustrate all reasonable readerly expectations.” - John Updike, THE NEW YORKER
About the Author:
Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. Lionised in Britain and the United States, he was the most-translated contemporary Italian writer at the time of his death, and a noted contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic reminiscent of fairy tales (Our Ancestors, Cosmicomics), although sometimes his writing is more "realistic" and in the scenic mode of observation (Difficult Loves, for example). Some of his writing has been called postmodern, reflecting on literature and the act of reading, while some has been labeled magical realist, others fables, others simply "modern". He wrote: "My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language." -bio from Goodreads and Wikipedia
** On a personal note, it turns out that another of Calvino's stories was the partial inspiration for the gorgeous animated short, La Luna (2011).
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