If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller
You are about to read a review on Italo Calvino’s novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. But first, be comfortable, it is so important to have a comfortable reading position, feet up, tea close at hand. Maybe you’re sneakily reading this when you’re at work, keep a corporate document open so you can click that if needed. Or maybe you have this open on your iPad, adjust the screen so it doesn’t strain your eyes. That better?
Stretch, focus on the words, you’ve been wanting to read this book for years, it’s always there in the background of ‘books you should read’ but you don’t know if it’s for you. Will it be interesting, will there be danger, romance, is it good?
You begin to read, and you read about reading and wonder when the actual review will start when you take a sip of tea and are side tracked. Right, are you done? Can we begin?
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler was first published in 1971 and is very post modern and abstract in its description and style. I really enjoyed the book, but it was a little frustrating whenever I got deep into the narrative and the plot, the book suddenly went and changed on me like a staircase at Hogwarts!
If on a Winter’s Night centre’s on every avid reader’s worst nightmare – a publication error sandwiches two different books together. You the reader have begun a fantastic spy thriller only to find that it is not to be completed. This sparks the reader/character (Calvino uses 2nd person narrative) on a quest to find the rest of the spy thriller, leading through a romance, a historical fiction, a psychological narrative and so on, finding each new book to be fantastic but all in fragments that have no ending. You follow book after book coming to a sudden and surprising (or not at all surprising, depends how you look at it) conclusion.
Calvino’s style is amazing, it’s more a work of post modern art than a traditional novel. The odd numbered chapters feature you the reader, and they are humorous and interesting accounts of trying to track down the books. The evenly numbered chapters are the first chapters of these novels and they are vividly descriptive books that almost demand to have full books written about them so you can find out what happens in the end.
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is ambitious and engaging, challenging the typical “format” of books and reading. Also, the chapter titles are cute Easter egg at the end of the novel. I found it highly enjoyable and do recommend one reads it, if only to say that they have.