"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, January 12, 2023


If On a Winters's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino, translated from Italian by William Weaver

Book Beginnings quote: 

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "No I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice -- they won't hear you otherwise -- "I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone.

Friday56 quote, from page 61 e-book:

The novel you are reading wants to present to you a corporeal world, thick, detailed. Immersed in your reading, you move the paper knife mechanically in the depth of the volume: your reading has not yet reached the end of the first chapter , but your cutting has already gone far ahead. And there, at the moment when your attention is gripped by the suspense, in the middle of a decisive sentence, you turn the page and find yourself facing two blank sheets.

Summary: The book begins in a train station where the narrator, who remains unnamed throughout, introduces himself in a some sort of plot, but just when the details are getting interesting some sort of publishing problem occurs and you cannot continue reading the story. So you return to the bookstore to return the book and there you meet a lady, Ludmilla, who is there for the same reason. Ultimately the two of you team up to find a complete version of the book but every attempt at finding it leads to another, and another, incomplete book, ten in all. Each time the error falls upon some aspect of writing, publishing, book sales, translations, etc. The titles of all these ten books, when read together, form a message for you that brings all the parts together. And you, yes you again Reader, win the girl Ludmilla. As Calvino says there are only two endings to books: death and marriage. When you finish the book so does the reader in the book.

Review: From the very beginning, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler places you, yes you, the reader as a main character. Admittedly is it disorienting and odd. Just when I thought I'd figured out what was happening to plot and the story seemed to shift or shift back so I never really knew what was going on. until the last chapter when everything wraps up in a very clever way.

If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is considered to be fine example of avant garde literature.  "In literature, the term avant-garde refers to poetry or prose that pushes the boundaries and is experimental. Avant-garde literature rejects the standard practices of other writers and instead looks for what's new and exciting. Innovation is at the heart of avant-garde work." Experimental and pushing boundaries is this book for sure. Weird would be another word I'd use to describe it. Frustrating, odd, confusing would also work. While I was reading it, I wished I hadn't chosen it. But when I was finished I was glad I did. Why? Because I want to stretch myself. I don't want to read only books that make me comfortable and though I doubt I will seek out too many other avant garde selections in the future I can now say I have read one.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.  

 This is a Classics Club SPIN selection.


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