If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (book review) Italo Calvino

William Weaver (Translator)


060119: i am just now making a bookshelf for ‘oulipo’ work and was reminded calvino is one of the names. i look at the publishing date for this edition (1981), i remember reading it some time in the ‘80s first time. when i think of major reading experiences in my life, [book:The Great Gatsby|4671] by Fitzgerald, [book:The Left Hand of Darkness|18423] by le guin, [book:Jealousy & In the Labyrinth|55480] by robbe-grillet, [book:Naked Lunch|563798] by burroughs, [book:Snow Country|14028] by kawabata, this book, [book:The Burglar|35830] by goodis, more recently [book:All the Names|2528] by saramago- this is this one that for me reconciles all the genres other than literature, in something beyond literature. this is indeed ‘potential literature.’ as oulipo asks for...


first review: i had enjoyed [book:Mr. Palomar|340940], i liked the beginning where the author invites the reader in, the intimacy, the simplicity. i did not know it was an ur-text and famous in a lit way, as an introduction to post modernism. in fact i had read it again before i read about it. that first reading is one of the most powerful lit experiences i ever had, up there with mishima’s [book:Spring Snow|62793] or angelo’s [book:The Celebration|1399816]…


i have read it several times- 4 or more, i have read about it, i was just beginning to read lit literature at that time, moving on from sf and fantasy lit, but one effect of it is that i have returned to the genres he parodies. ten stories begun, ten stories demonstrating lit skills as genre skills, an overarching frame that makes it all make sense by not making sense…


i take genre lit seriously, i take seriously the implicit contract between author and readers, i allow myself to enjoy my reading rather than taking it apart to see how it works- at least the first time. pleasure of the text, of the context, for there is no outside the text…


i remember buying this book, i remember the bookstore- used and new, english and french- the street- chemin queen mary- the area- out past the highway to west island- the time- middle of a friday afternoon- but these are all dreamed memories, and who knows what if any effect these details had on the purchase…


magic, love is magic no one else sees. magic, the book is just marks of black on white pages, but somehow it creates an entire world. magic, you can open it at the beginning, you can read the end, you can skim it, you have a freedom the world does not ever offer. magic, is it a to b to c- or is it b to c to a? you choose, every time, same or different. you decide where and when and how- and maybe in what language- you will read it. you lose it, your copy is soaked, your copy is burned, your copy is torn to pieces or lost at sea or camping… it does not matter, the important part is inviolable and eternal. magic…


you are one person before you read it. you are another person after you read it. magic…

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