Shoma Patnaik's Reviews > If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
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's review
Oct 21, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, italy, mystery, translation, magic-realism, philosophy
Read from October 13 to 14, 2011

The beginning of this book was brilliant, and I was inclined to continue to think so when I got to the first story, If on a winter's night a traveller, where he talks of the smoke obscuring the first paragraph. The story itself didn't interest me so much but I was willing to go on and Outside the town of Malbork was an improvement. Unfortunately, it just went downhill after that, only to be saved by the ending.

The irony is that, one of the driest parts of the book describes this. Nevertheless, when Silas Flannery conceives of a book composed solely of incipits because it is the beginning of the book that captivates the reader, he forgets that even when there are multiple beginnings, there is still going to be a middle and an end, composed of such beginnings. The issue with the book was that of all the stories that appear and disappear, I found only two really interesting - Outside the town of Malbork and Around an empty grave, which seemed like an interesting blend betyween Mario Vargas Llosa's Lituma en los Andes and Cien Años de Soledad by Gabriel García Márquez. The others were either dry or were interrupted by the narration. Those two were the only stories that made me want to read more, to share the curiosity of The Reader and The Other Reader. So in the end, I can only say that I liked these stories and I liked the clever little concept and that is it.

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