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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

1001 Book Update - If on a winter's night a traveler

I was at the library the other day when I saw If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino. I've heard of the title somewhere and it just sounded good. Then I realized it's on the 1001 List so I said why not.

This is a TOUGH review to write. I loved it, then I got confused at Chapter 6 and almost gave up, but then I re-read Chapter 6 and moved on and I loved it again because Chapter 7 seemed to be speaking to me. Not like "it moved" me or was REALLY talking directly to me. It told me, in a lot more words and way more eloquently, that I, the Reader, was on a plane, on descent to the airport, but I really wanted to finish the book. And I WAS on an airplane, going to Vegas, and we had just started the descent, and I was almost finished with the book!!

Ok. Let me back up.

This book is odd. Very odd. You, the Reader, are a character in the novel. You had just picked up a copy of If on a winter's night a traveler and are somewhere relaxing, kicking up your feet, and reading the book. And then the novel begins. And it's interesting. And then it stops. What? You, the Reader, get mad and go to the bookstore for another copy. But ALL the copies are like that. What's going on? At the bookstore you meet a lady (yes Reader, you are male, apparently). She too has the book and is trying to figure out what's going on. And you are attracted to her so you strike up a conversation and go on a quest with her to figure out what's going on.

Crazy, right? The book has Chapters which describe the Reader's search for the book, and interspersed are a number of short stories...all different, completely different.

I loved it. I was frustrated. Each chapter sucked me in and I wanted to know more. But each story just stopped. But I loved it. And the Reader falls for the other Reader, Ludmilla, the lady from the bookstore. So you have a tad bit of romance as well.

Has anyone read this book? Liked it, hated it? Did my review make any sense?

For the curious, here's an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. Doesn't it just suck you in?

**Note: The other covers of this book are pretty boring. But I LOVED this cover. A train is mentioned in the book, and you can't see it on the image above that well, but the steam from the train is all shreds of lines from the stories. Very cool.


  1. What an odd sounding book.

    I like your new header.

  2. Wow, that is certainly an odd one. I'm considering it for my 1% list for next year ...

  3. I love this book, although whenever I read it I am disappointed the different novels it contains weren't actually completed! It is crazy, funny and completely wonderful.

    I'd also recommend his equally mind-bending Invisible cities.

  4. I have read wonderful things about Calvino and about this book in particular. Even with the 'frustrations' it sounds like a book that is right up my alley. I was really impressed with Murakami and Paul Auster last year and I need to find another author for this year to try out who writes outside of the norm like this.


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