Categories
Books and Reading Reviews

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (1979), by Italo Calvino

ifonawintersnightatravellerWarning! This review contains one potential spoiler in the very last paragraph. Please read it with your eyes closed to avoid learning what it is.

In the realm of experimental fiction, there are two kinds of books: Clever Books and Books That Are Too Clever For Their Own Good. And Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller comes very close to being a Book That Is Too Clever For Its Own Good.

I first decided I wanted to read this book when I read a quote from the novel in Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists. It’s a fabulous description of a character entering a bookshop. In Calvino’s hands this simple action is transformed into a kind of military assault: