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Catastrophe: And Other Stories

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In Catastrophe, the renowned Italian short story writer Dino Buzzati brings vividly to life the slow and quietly terrifying collapse of our known, everyday world. In stories touched by the fantastical and the strange, and filled with humor, irony, and menace, Buzzati illuminates the nightmarish side of our ordinary existence.

From “The Epidemic,” which traces the gradual ef
ebook, 240 pages
Published March 27th 2018 by Ecco (first published February 1966)
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Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Dino Buzzati’s stories fit into the bleak European country of the subconscious that occupied the writing of Franz Kafka, Bruno Schulz, and Stefan Grabinski. He summons up a strange feeling of distress and anxiety that lingers over his tales, with characters often trapped on their way towards the end. Seemingly hidden branches of bureaucracy govern strange places, and the world is inhabited by queer, half fabled creatures. But the lingering weirdness and dread that his stories hint at come into f ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best short story collections I've read in a while. These stories are always unpredictable and inventive, with lots of variety. One wonders where an author gets such consistently impressive and original plot ideas. I could compare this with Kafka and Borges (who did come to mind at times) but Buzzati really deserves to be cited in his own category.

These stories are often macabre, sometimes supernatural, but not always explicitly so. Often events are just bizarre and unexplained
Less catastrophic than dreamlike, the most intriguing of these stories are puffs of smoke, they float before you and drift from the forefront of your consciousness until you become acutely aware of their finitude, eventually reaching their end you find yourself bitterly fulfilled, as in waking from a long sleep filled with its soft and tragic quality, a presence that remains alluring thereafter.
Nancy Oakes
What a great collection of sophisticated, strange and offbeat stories from a master of his craft.

My thanks to Patrick G. P. for the recommendation.

An interesting sense of tension, especially in the earlier stories in the collection. Buzzati is good at producing an atmosphere of dread and growing cognitive dissonance. The protagonist senses that something sweeping and terrible is going on, which is all the more scary for not knowing what it is.

But is there much to Buzzati beyond that? Publishers gotta stop comparing things to Kafka on their jacket copy. This is nowhere near as uncanny or as deep, it has none of the personal moral urgency of
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been waiting for over two decades for a reprint of Dino Buzzati's stories. I first heard of Dino Buzzati in an interview with Thomas Ligotti. You should get a sense of deja vu when reading such stories as 'Seven Floors', 'The March of Time', and 'The Alarming Revenge of a Domestic Pet'. This collection should be read by any serious fan of modern horror. ...more
Joachim Stoop
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A somewhat monotone collection of menacing and doomy stories somewhere in between Calvino, Kafka and Poe
Mark Samuels
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am starting to have mixed feelings about Buzzati. I obtained this book due to the necessity of reading two, quite rightly, very highly-regarded stories ("Catastrophe" and "Seven Floors") which are included herein and are not included elsewhere in his other collections available in the English language and which I've previously read (viz; Restless Nights and The Siren). Those two stories I've cited are excellent and well worth the price of purchase. But Buzzati is so hit-and-miss for me that I ...more
I really liked this collection of oddball, eccentric little stories. Most were so fresh and vivid, with hints of fables, tall tales and the like - that I’ll be reading more Buzzati, no doubt. Quite enjoyable!
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dino Buzzati is one of my favorite authors, and I have no idea why he isn’t better known in the English-speaking world. I suspect it’s because he defies easy categorization: his most famous work is a novel (The Tartar Steppe), he published a large number of short stories, he wrote extensive nonfiction thanks to his career in journalism, he authored plays, and he even wrote and illustrated a graphic novel (which is now available in English thanks to a New York Review Books edition). His range alo ...more
Robert Wechsler
The stories in this collection are an odd combination of turn-of-the-century Decadence and a grotesque sensibility that was way ahead of its time. These oddly formulated stories are a revelation, different in so many ways from even unconventional stories, dismissive of rules, but a hundred pages at a time is enough. I look forward to reading the second hundred pages another time.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several tales of enchanting terror and each riddled with their own anxious tension of reality shapeshifting between dreams and nightmares. Ranging from a journalist searching for a landslide that has yet to occur. To a children's egg hunt which incurs the wrath of a scorned mother.

The longest story, and in my opinion best:"The Scala Scare" details the cultural elite enjoying a night out only for a shady intelligence agency sowing seeds of unease during an opera while just outside the chamber do
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall: (Beware this review is super long, I reviewed all 19 short stories in Catastrophe. Also I really suck at formatting, this is how it follows for each mini-review: Title, reading, and review.)
Overall, I would rate this short story collection 3.5, because I felt like when I really enjoyed a story, I would rate it 4 stars, but there were also stories in this collection that I felt like were not as good or okay. I think that Dino Buzzati knows how to come up with different stories, all the
Tyler Jones
Dino Buzzati passed away almost fifty years ago and his work is not particularly well known in North America, so coming across this new translation into English is an unexpected treat. These stories are almost uniformly terrifying; like vivid nightmares that follow their logic of doom, but there is also a lively imagination at work and I found myself admiring the prose even as it unsettled and disturbed me. Buzzati was a great writer and I hope this book introduces more English readers to his pe ...more
Antonis Maronikolakis
An excellent anthology! A varied collection of stories is presented here, mostly involving some sort of catastrophe. The stories, ranging from the suspenseful to the otherworldly, are all unique and imaginative. I don't think I have seen any anthology as fantastical as this one. Most of the time the ending is some sort of catastrophe, but in other cases all ends well. Some other times it is left open. You just never know what to expect.

A lot of the stories are delightfully kafkaesque, with the o
J. Lee Hazlett
I went back and forth on my rating for this collection of short stories. A few of the tales in the middle had such odd or abrupt endings that they felt incomplete. I wasn't looking for a perfect fairy-tale end, but at least some sense of conclusion would have been nice. These read as if the protagonist dropped dead mid-scene, and that was why the story ended. Other stories, however, were excellent. I particularly enjoyed 'The Scala Scare,' which painted a detailed and accurate picture of the psy ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastical and dark at times, whimsical at others, this collection of stories first published in 1965 and recently reissued in 2018 (with a terrific new foreword by Kevin Brockmeier) was completely engaging. If Rod Serling and Italo Calvino had an artificial love child, Buzzati might be it. I’d never heard of him until I came across mention of his story “Seven Floors” in an essay on aging. And yes, there’s even a story called “The Epidemic”. Highly recommended.
Claude Bouchard
Jan 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
NOTE: This review is from an advance reader copy.

Apparently, this writer has quite a fanbase, though I'm not quite sure why. The short stories within this collection are very short (something I usually enjoy), but they don't go anywhere. They all start out with very imaginative premises (a reporter sent to cover a landslide that has yet to occur, a flu that affects only government enemies, a heatwave that turns a crowd murderous), and they're all different, but it's as if they were all stuck in
I bought this thinking it was something else, but I am very glad I ended up with this. I had never heard of Dino Buzzati, but he is amazing! Generally very short stories that have an air of something about to go wrong (as so wonderfully stated in the foreword); that's right down my alley. Some really great ones in here, and even the ones I didn't like aren't bad. And I liked seeing all the very common Italian names constantly pop up.

3.75 average, rounded up to 4.

"The Collapse of the Baliverna" -
My favorites are the seven floors, the scala scare, the egg, the enchanted coat and the saint
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I fail to understand how Buzzati is not more widely known. These are imaginative, well written (well translated?), often terrifying vignettes which kept me captivated. More so, the open endings left so much food for thought afterwards that perhaps they are not 'short' stories after all???

A bit perplexed by some of the criticisms in other reviews here, particularly an expression there were no "denouements". Struck as very modern age comment --- should we have an expectation of every last thing be
Steve Rutledge
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of short stories with just a few clunkers. I can't imagine how Buzzatti is not more well known today. At times to me his writings evoke Edgar Allen Poe as well as The Twilight Zone. Most of the stories have a sinister and menacing quality to them. No blood and guts, no special effects .. but like the stories from The Twilight Zone, the magic is in the writing. Suspenseful, usually with an enderlying sense of dread and doom. Often the stories feature happless characters(such as ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had never heard of Mr. Buzzati prior to coming across this book in a Italian-centered bookshop, and decided to take a chance on it. I'm so glad I did, as this collection of stories was utterly mesmerizing. Each story was like something out of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Each was so engrossing, appearing as some wild amalgamation of Kafka/Poe. Buzzati's stories are expertly crafted, filled with dread and suspense imposed against moments of levity and pure fantasy, often leaving me conflicted ...more
Mar 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great collection of stories, many of them very memorable and vivid. So much paranoia and claustrophobia condensed into so few words... very powerful and sharp. You can definitely see a theme across all these stories, of an unknown danger that may or may not be there, ignored for too long until it is too late...
The final few stories were much more light hearted, and ended the collection on a happy note, which was nice.
Christie Maloyed
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a whim in an independent book store in D.C. on a recommendation from a sales clerk. Described as Kafka meets Poe, Buzzati writes micro stories - very short, short stories - that invoke a sense of dread. I also found similarities to Shirley Jackson's works. It's not exactly something that I looked forward to reading, but, I found most of the stories captivating and intriguing. ...more
Montage Matt
A terrific short story collection. The blurbs compare Buzzati's style to Poe, Calvino, Kafka, Borge and Donald Barthelme. There is also a feeling of Fellini and Luis Bunuel. The stories - all translated from Italian and quite short - are original, weird, funny, frightening and at times surreal. Another blurb says the stories are provocative and that’s accurate. ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up not knowing anything about the author and got a delightful surprise. Most of the short stories are very short (a few pages) but manage to build feelings of unease into delicious horror. Definitely read if you like getting creepy stories that are perfectly constructed
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, tiny stories where rectitude, conception, and execution repel each other.
Scott Pomfret
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A quirky collection of old fashioned and slightly musty tales redeemed by flirtations with the supernatural anchored in very precise detail.
Joe Canas
3.5 stars
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Dino Buzzati Traverso (1906 – 1972) è stato uno scrittore, giornalista, pittore, drammaturgo, librettista, scenografo, costumista e poeta italiano.

Dino Buzzati Traverso was an Italian novelist, short story writer, painter and poet, as well as a journalist for Corriere della Sera. His worldwide fame is mostly due to his novel Il deserto dei Tartari, translated into English as The Tartar Steppe.

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“For the first time in years he raised his eyes to the windows and saw, beyond the frozen roofs and under the crystal clear sky, the distant mountains gleaming, white with snow. They looked like silver clouds sailing gaily along, slow-moving, above the worries of the earth. He looked at them: for how long had he been oblivious to their existence? He thought, how different they are from us men, God, how pure and beautiful.” 0 likes
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