Brian's Reviews > Difficult Loves

Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino
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's review
Jun 20, 2012

liked it
Read in June, 2012

Nicely done. Calvino is applying his imagination in a different direction from his usual here; instead of inventing a fanciful setting or premise, he takes situations and people which are mostly quite ordinary and invites us to look at them through an unusual lens.

I was worried about this love-story anthology going in because Calvino's women in his other work are often infuriatingly distant and alien. He skirts that problem here by making men the focal characters in almost every story. I think he avoids misogyny, but he does it mostly by not getting close enough to the women to examine their humanity, which is a bit of a cop-out. His men, anyway, are well-developed and very human.

There are one-star stories in here and there are five-star stories in here. Though the Wartime Stories contain some real humdingers, Calvino saves the best for last: the Stories of Love and Loneliness are the ones where he's firing on all cylinders, deeply embedded in a character's psychology, and finding beauty in extraordinary places.

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