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Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,490 ratings  ·  85 reviews
For the first time in paperback--a volume of thirty-seven diabolically inventive stories, fables, and "impossible interviews" from one of the great fantasists of the 20th century, displaying the full breadth of his vision and wit.Written between 1943 and 1984 and masterfully translated by Tim Parks, the fictions in Numbers in the Dark display all of Calvino's dazzling gift ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

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Lucrezia
Questa raccolta di racconti di Calvino non mi ha del tutto convinta... Taluni sono autentici picchi di genialità , taluni si sgonfiano sul finale , e taluni sono del tutto scialbi...
Ho comprato questo libro più che altro per il racconto che gli da nome , che è uno di quelli che appartengono alla seconda categoria (i soufflé), perfetto , frasi da brivido , e poi mi ti vai a sgonfiare sul finale mah ... Non so veramente cosa pensare se essere delusa (ma poi c' erano dei racconti magnifici tipo "l
...more
Paul
If you're looking to read some Calvino for the first time, do not buy this book. May I instead highly recommend the magnificent The Complete Cosmicomics - it will not disappoint.

'Numbers in the Dark' an interesting and creative collection of short stories. Not all of them are good (this coming from a hardcore Calvino fan) but arguably the collection is the more interesting for it. His earlier stories are either delightfully simple yet engaging parables or more long-winded forays into philosophy
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David
Short stories are interesting when considered as a medium of their own. What I mean by this is, some authors and fiction writers are better at certain types of fiction. Not necessarily better at certain types of fiction when compared to other writers, but better in comparison to their own works of different types. For instance, Nabokov is a master of the novel (perhaps the best in terms of structure and one of the best in terms of raw prose), but all of his short stories are terrible. There is o ...more
George
One of the most interesting parts of this collection of short stories, for me, is the chronological organization, which allows us to observe the development of Calvino as a short story writer from the earliest included stories (which start when he was about 20) to the ones written during his 50s and 60s. His earlier stories are brief fables, each spun around a single idea. The first story, "The Man Who Shouted Teresa," for example, explores community through the simple act of a man standing in t ...more
Josh
While I really love Calvino's novels I think he is at his best when writing short stories. "Conscience" is a particular favorite.
Chris
"And Ida is one of those girls who run into you and immediately start telling you their life stories and what they think about things, even though they hardly know you: girls with no secrets, except for things that are secrets to them too; and even for those secrets they'll find words, everyday words that sprout effortlessly, as if their thoughts budded ready-clothed in a tissue of words."

"Only in a superficial sense can lies be said to exclude the truth; you will be aware that in many cases lie
...more
Jessica
I agree with other reviewers that it shouldn't be the first Calvino book you read, but readers who are already Calvino fans will find plenty of gems in this collection. There are 37 widely varied stories, vignettes, fables, imagined interviews, and fantasies, arranged chronologically and representing work from 1943 to 1985. Of the earlier work, I most enjoyed the fables such as "The Black Sheep," in which a smoothly-running village of thieves is thrown into chaos when an honest man moves in. Sta ...more
Maarit
Kenraali kirjastossa on kokoelma Calvinon lyhyistä tarinoista ja novelleista. Teos on jaettu kahteen osaan, jossa ensimmäiseen on koottu novelleja ja lyhyitä kertomuksia Calvinon alkuajoilta ja toiseen osaan enimmäkseen Calvinon vanhempana kirjoittamaa ja pääosin novelleista koostuvaa materiaalia. Kuten aina novellikokoelmissa, taso on vaihteleva ja osa tarinoista jää toistensa varjoon. Muutamia hyviä novelleja oli toki joukossa, kuten teokselle nimen antava "Kenraali kirjastossa", mutta joukkoo ...more
casey
Each word written by Calvino is strategic. The impressive part is that this important fact seems not to be lost in translation. The real appeal of this book, for me, is that his characters are almost achingly real and non-glamorous, but the fact that these stories are set in a time and places so different from my own experience, they almost seem fantastic. Time and again, Calvino impresses with his ability to make the most simple circumstances come alive.
Marcus Shibaba
I just started browsing through the brief stories in this book. They all seem to be grasping at large ideas, but nothing is actualized. I think that I'll have to get a full length novel to really get a feel for ol' Italo. I also just grabbed a documentary about Fellini that has Mr. Calvino interviews. I think I'll base my like/dislike of his writing based on his hair cut. I hope he has a good barber.
John Pappas
Calvino's short allegories and invented interviews gain acuity and insight as one proceeds through the collection. Mostly dealing with the intellectual, cultural, and political ramifications of various forms of fascism, Calvino's stories are a warm and engaging rebellion against those forces that would staunch human inventiveness and individuality.
Manda Keeton
Like other reviewers, I would agree that collection is not a good starter for readers unfamiliar with Calvino. The collection took me nearly half a year to get through - whether due to changing life circumstances or lack of interest. There are little gems to be found starting with 'The Man Who Shouted Teresa,' continuing with 'A General in the Library' and ending with the imaginative interviews - 'Henry Ford' being a strong favorite. The collection had some common themes: the core of human natur ...more
Yasmeen
3.5, 3 for the first half and 4 for the second half.

Some of the fables at the start are interesting and cool, but overall the first bit is somewhat uneven, fairly hit and miss. I really enjoyed most of the stories in the second half, which are more standard Calvino (if such a thing as standard Calvino even exists). Though I guess given that they're arranged in chronological order, it makes sense that his work was improving towards the end. It's kind of hard to review the collection because they
...more
Mayra Correa e Castro
Do espólio de Ítalo Calvino (1923-1985) saíram textos sensacionais e outros nem tanto. Um general na biblioteca fica na casa dos 50% ótimo, 50% normal. Há quase-contos, contos de fato, e contos intermináveis. Espanta sempre a criatividade absurda em Calvino, mesmo quando produziu sob encomenda, como fica demonstrado por A glaciação, a pedido de uma destilaria japonesa, e O incêndio da casa abominável, encomendado pela IBM mas que acabou sendo publicado pela revista Playboy. Aliás, este conto foi ...more
Kurt
Although this collection of short stories had some really nice moments, I was ultimately unimpressed. I had heard great things about Italo Calvino, how he's an Italian version of Borges, and I can certainly see the similarities to the great Argentine author, but Calvino does not benefit from the comparison.

The collection is organized chronologically, as far as I can tell, and it begins with promise. There are a few pedestrian extended jokes and adolescent musings on love, but there are some fasc
...more
Zack
Friends have observed that I tend to appreciate good concepts over good execution. I would not argue with this. As such, Italo Calvino is just the author for me. Whenever I start another of his works, I am stunned by the premises that he comes up with: be it a shy, newly-evolved amphibian lifeform embarassed of his ichthyoid uncle, or a book that defies all of your attempts to read it, or a time when the Moon was reachable from the Earth by a ladder. Numbers in the Dark is no exception, but, ala ...more
Samuel
É o primeiro livro que leio do Italo Calvino e tenho certeza que não será o último. O livro contém contos escritos em vários momentos diferentes da trajetória do escritor. Farei uma comparação um tanto desproporcional pela temática entre contos do Kafka e os que acabo de ler. Nos contos e fábulas do Kafka, existem situações de um mundo absurdo que nos permitem criar conexões com situações também absurdas no mundo real. Nos do do Ítalo Calvino, existem situações de um mundo real contadas de uma f ...more
Ben
I have very mixed feelings about this collection. Some of the stories were absolutely amazing and reaffirmed my conviction that Calvino is one of the greatest writers of the 21st century. At the same time, though, some of them fell into the trap of abstraction and density that he sometimes falls into (similar to his fellow countryman, Umberto Eco). Stories like 'The Man Who Shouted Teresa,' 'Making Do,' 'Solidarity,' 'The Black Sheep,' 'The Lost Regiment,' 'A General in the Library,' 'The Tribe ...more
Josh
I first read a story by Italo Calvino in some literary magazine in English class in high school. I thought the story was so cool. It was about this town where everyone was a thief and at night all of the citizens would go out and rob from each other's houses. The town was peaceful and everyone was on equal footing. Than some honest dude moved to town and screwed everything up. Over the years I have searched for it in libraries, book stores and on the internet, but could never find it. Finally, t ...more
Michael
Italo Calvino's genius shines through in this short story collection of both published and unpublished works written between 1943 and 1984. Some are short, first person narratives of an introspective nature. Others, fables about the rocky political times he experienced in Italy. He even has a discourse told from the point of view of a star confused about whether or not it should implode or explode. There's something for everyone here. It makes one want to continue on to Calvino's novels next.
Shannon
Many years ago, my cousin gave me an Italo Calvino book. I started to read it then, but I never finished. I can't recall the reason. When I picked up NUMBERS IN THE DARK, I was enchanted by the first story (my favorite of all the selections). It was so clever and absurd. But there were only a few throughout the entire book that were really good. Most were decently entertaining or clever and engaging, and some were downright tedious. I believe that with this last set, the cleverness is exhausted ...more
Will Kent
A book about men by a man. Not hard to imagine Bolano easing into one of his books. Calvino has an eye for crafting intricate vignettes, rich in scenery and the tiniest details. If you can savor those over the stubborn perspective, there are some great stories in this volume including: The Man Who Shouted Teresa, World Memory, Beheading the Heads, Before You Say 'Hello,' and Henry Ford.
Jamie is
Year 2000 me (first and second reading) absolutely loved this fantastical style and devoured everything in the college library by Calvino. I also wrote in expanded descriptions using generalizations and many adjectives. 2015 me now focuses too muchon this as style that should be improved, even though I think this reaction is unfortunate as I don't want to be the kind of person who has rigid expectations for art and exploration!
Tomas
Lange tijd getwijfeld of ik het boek goed vond. De vele kortverhalen maakten me het moeilijk om deze kaft consequent te beoordelen: ik kan stellen dat 2/3 van zijn verhalen me echt heeft kunnen bekoren. Calvino doet je stil staan bij de kleinste wereldlijke handelingen: de douche aanzetten, je liefje bellen, contemplaties over het eigen dromen etc.

2 verhalen die me na aan het hart liggen: Memoirs of Casanova en Henry Ford. Deze verhalen beslaan 2 onderwerpen die heel dicht bij me staan. Liefdevo
...more
Heli
Voiko teksteistä nauttia näin paljon? Näköjään voi.

Kenraali kirjastossa on kokoelma faabeleita, tarinoita, kertomuksia ja dialogeja. Suosikkejani niistä olivat
- Mies joka huusi Teresaa (osallistumisen kritiikittömyydestä)
- Kenraali kirjastossa (tiedon vallasta ja vaikutuksesta)
- Päälliköiden päät pölkylle (yhteiskuntarakenteesta)
- Neandertalinihminen (historiantulkinnoista ja toimittajain käytöksestä)
- Montezuma (asenteellisuudesta)
- Casanovan muistelmat (jokaisen naisen erilaisuudesta ja mahdot
...more
Asyoulikeit
less than half are truly something. Among them:'good for nothing', 'love far from home', 'a beautiful march day'.
Zach
I think the only reason this book doesn't resonate quite as much as Calvino's others is that it's a collection of the previously uncollected, where his other works tend to feel more unified. Each individual piece here is great (though I'm not sold on the 3 impossible interviews), especially the two final stories, both narrated Qfwfq, the narrator of the classic story collection Cosmicomics. So the elements that make up the book deserve 5 stars. The book, at least compared to Calvino's other book ...more
Lisa
Probably should read again. It was hard to get into
Jenn Miller
beautiful story that makes an acounting error seem spooky.
cras culture
I felt that this collection of stories ranged story-by-story from thoroughly brilliant and engrossing to somewhat rambling and lackluster, but i am giving it a high rating because the brilliant far outnumbered the rambling. Always fantastical, intriguing, absurd but with a poignant point these stories are both entertaining and in-depth. It is also interesting that since this collection spanned calvino's entire existence as a writer, one can see the developments and ebbs and flows of his style a ...more
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Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979).

His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic
...more
More about Italo Calvino...
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler Invisible Cities The Baron in the Trees Cosmicomics Il cavaliere inesistente

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“Maybe you have to become a mother to get to the real sense of everything. Or a prostitute.” 4 likes
“There was a town where everything was forbidden.

Now, since the only thing that wasn’t forbidden was the game tip-cat, the town’s subjects used to assemble on meadows behind the town and spend the day there playing tip-cat.

And as the laws forbidding things had been introduced one at a time and always with good reason, no one found any cause for complaint or had any trouble getting used to them.

Years passed. One day the constables saw that there was no longer any reason why everything should be forbidden and they sent messengers to inform their subjects that they could do whatever they wanted.

The messengers went to those places where the subjects were wont to assemble.

‘Hear ye, hear ye,’ they announced, ‘nothing is forbidden any more.’

The people went on playing tip-cat.

‘Understand?’ the messengers insisted. ‘You are free to do what you want.’

‘Good,’ replied the subjects. ‘We’re playing tip-cat.’

The messengers busily reminded them of the many wonderful and useful occupations they had once engaged in and could no engage in once again. But the subjects wouldn’t listen and just went on playing, stroke after stroke, without even stopping for a breather.

Seeing that their efforts were in vain, the messengers went to tell the constables.

‘Easy,’ the constables said. ‘Let’s forbid the game of tip-cat.’

That was when the people rebelled and killed the lot of them.

Then without wasting time, they got back to playing tip-cat.”
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