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If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

I think I can safely say that Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller was the weirdest book I have ever read. It's a story about a reader trying to read a book called If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. There are twenty-two chapters, and every odd chapter is about you, the reader, and your process of reading and every even chapter is the start of another book. The book begins like this, to give you a taste of Calvino's style:

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller. 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...

And it takes some time getting used to; second person narration is always strange. Calvino ruminates on books and reading ("but how to establish the exact moment in which a story begins?") and readers vs. editors and the whole story itself was... It is #69 on the list of the Telegraph's 100 novels you should read, described as "international book fraud is exposed in this playful postmodernist puzzle." Interspersed with the story of the Reader trying to find a complete edition of If on a Winter's Night a Traveller are ten different genres of story. Each of these excerpts offers a different look into the opinions of the Reader (not you, the reader, but the Reader (the protagonist of the story) - confusing!) I think the best way for me to end this review is to copy a review of an Amazon customer

Read chapter 1. Finished chapter 1. Began chapter 2. Scratched my head. Finished chapter 2. Began chapter 3. Began laughing at the game Calvino was playing with me. And wondering what he was going to do to me next. I would never have guessed all the different roads I would go down as I read this book. You'll fall in love. You'll pull your hair out. You'll throw the book across the room. And then you'll go pick it up again. Any attempts to describe this book any better than this will either not be well-understood or will ruin the effect of discovering it for yourself. If you are prepared to put aside your standard concepts of literary narrative and explore a new experiment, this book is definitely for you.

Definitely worth the read. Rating: ★★★★

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