If on a Winter's night a traveller - Italo Calvino

I read this after reading some remarkably positive reviews on a book newsgroup. From what I read I expected something like half of Cloud Atlas written by Umberto Eco. It's something else, although there is a shadow of that.

It's no novel. The overall plot is rubbish, but that's not the point. It's like a quilt of stories that form an overall thesis on reading (and writing). It's clever and it's just showing off - I can sense the themes it's pushing, some obviously, some less so, but would find it hard to articulate. It makes me think of abstract landscapes, or maybe Mahler. It's a bit... academic.

All in all, it's a shaggy dog story, but it's made me think about how writing fiction can be so much more than just telling a story. I think you need to be in the mood for it, but if you are, it's brilliant.

Posted 2010-08-31.