This was a unique book. It was interesting and postmodernist. It was also strange and got a bit creepy in some parts especially towards the end.
It features a lot of theme on reading, books, writers, fiction, narration and more. It is hard to describe, but it is a novel about a reader told in second person narrative who reads other novels that begin every other chapter. It does feel like you are reading a short story collection at times. Each of the book the author reads is from a different time, setting, and sometimes mood. Still, the style remains. The plots varied and some were quite esoteric and a bit out there which is standard for this kind of postmodernist style.
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was influenced by this novel, and I can see the literary merit of Calvino’s work. I would not reread it because it I actually felt not connection to any of the characters in the books within the book or the real Reader/Protagonist. I did like the a musings about reading though. I also think the book has a couple of clever techniques.
As a translated work, I was impressed again by William Weaver. He has also translated much of Umberto Eco’s work including The Name of the Rose which I have also read. Weaver is wonderful writer and this work was named as one of the best literary English translations in the last fifty years.
Read on book and Kindle from April 14th-20th 2013.