- Fizzy Thoughts: If on a winter's night a traveler

If on a winter's night a traveler

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


If on a winter's night a traveler
Italo Calvino
1979
260 pages

So. Hmmmmmmm. What to say? How about:

I have no freakin' clue what this book is about!

Okay, that's a slight (slight!) fib. It's about reading. And a series of unfinished books. And a man searching for the endings. Sort of. I guess.

See, this book veered off into a bunch of philosophical sounding shit that I just didn't get. I believe I've mentioned before that I only passed philosophy with the help of my friend Cliff and his Notes (the only time, I swear, that I resorted to the taxi cab colored books in my entire college career...and I spent six years in college, so I had plenty of opportunity). I don't like philosophy. I'm too practical and it makes my head hurt. Plus, this book was full of obscure words I was too lazy (not to mention sore) to get up and find in the dictionary.

Okay, let's see if I can manage to accurately describe this book. A man starts reading a book. But the second chapter is not the same book. As he embarks on a quest to find the next chapter, everywhere he goes he is given a different first chapter. The book alternates between these first chapters, and the story of the man (or the reader, because the book is actually written in the second person point of view) and his attempt to unravel the mystery behind all the first chapters. Clever, huh? In this case, clever just wasn't enough for me.

To be fair, I loved the first chapter, in which Calvino reflects on reading. But as the fictional country developed, and fictional languages and authors seemed to multiply, I just got increasingly muddled, to the point where I no longer cared about all the stories that I knew would never have an ending (and remember, I adore resolution) and the characters that I couldn't figure out.

To sum up, this book was a dud.

5 comment(s):

Ti said...

I detest philosophical shit! This book sounds like a bad acid trip. Even the title is weird.

Eva said...

Awww: I really enjoyed all of the different 'chapters.' Towards the end it definitely started getting weirder, but I was all about philosophy in high school, so I'm used to it! ;)

softdrink said...

LOL ti! Sounds like we need to send all the philosophical shit Eva's way!

You know, I really wanted to like this book, too. I don't think I was in the right frame of mind for it.

Charley said...

I loved this book. It was different than anything I had read, but I agree, the end got pretty strange.

Dar said...

This definitely does not sound like a book I will pick up any time soon.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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