Lara Messersmith-Glavin's Reviews > Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
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's review
Mar 04, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: life-changing

I keep a copy of this around to use in the way some use tarot cards, or willow sticks or coins to throw the Yi Ching. I can open this book to any page, in any mood, with a question or somtimes simply a hollow heart, and there will be the story I need. Each city, each description (whispered to Kublai Khan to tell him of the vastness of his empire, most of which he will neither ever see nor understand...) is like an answer unto itself, a little meditation on a possible life. Some are as long as three or four pages; most are not, covering only the page and a half that offers itself when the spine is cracked, stopping short on the right so you have a place for your thumb.

It never occurred to me to read it straight through, and so I never have. Perhaps it is different that way, although I somehow doubt it.

This is a gorgeous book, a mysterious book, a book full of so many images and ideas and little strange thoughts that it seems like too many truths for one brain to have crafted. It is a pocket jewel. It makes me want to be a better writer, a weirder human, a more beautiful thing. I am grateful that it has no illustrations, as the ones that your mind offers as companions will be far more haunting and correct.
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