If On a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

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Jill's take on If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

We picked up Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler while on a book buying binge in Milan. We figured we had a lot of time in the Sahara and other places where it might be difficult to find English language books so we better stock up. And what better place to purchase one of Italy’s top authors than in Italy itself.

We each read a part of the book while in the store and were intrigued enough to purchase it. The premise is a unique one – the book starts out as the book you have purchased at the store, but due to a printing error repeats pages and is no longer readable.

From here, Calvino takes many different paths and explores what it means to read books and be a Reader. He takes the opportunity to craft other stories that are without end. It’s an interesting journey, though if you enjoy closure, this might be difficult for you.

It’s a fast read and I found it rather entertaining. There were times when I was sort of like ‘meh’ about what was happening and the story being told, but found the overall path and concept interesting enough to keep me going.

There’s some beautiful language used in the book and some really awkward sexual scenes during one chapter, but overall one can understand the talent of the writer to express his emotions and concepts.

I can see why Calvino is an esteemed literary figure; particularly in Italy where we saw so many of his books for sale. I would recommend the book, though I think you may have to swallow a little patience pill and just go with the flow. It’s a strange and rewarding ride. I can honestly say I have never read anything like it before.

Zac's take on If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

If On A Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino begins with a description of a person standing in a bookstore reading the exact book I was reading, which gave me the feeling of watching myself read a book in a bookstore. Calvino is unique to me in that he has the ability to simultaneously draw you in while giving you that out of body disassociated feeling of floating above yourself. I’m sure Jill has covered the premise of the novel itself which is a convoluted series of Russian stacking dolls that are sometimes mirrored and gives the reader the impression of getting to the center to find the smallest doll is actually the biggest one.

It’s a masterful wander through a hall of mirrors in which you (The Reader) is written about and openly contemplated and drawn through.

If you don’t want to know exactly where you are going and are okay reading several books within a book, this is a delightful little ride.

(We left this little novel on the 1st class compartement on the train between Marrakech and Fez. It was a brutal day of travel, but hopefully somebody will find this and enjoy it!