If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is a post-modern novel that becomes obsessed with its own meta-ness. The structure is odd where it is like 10 stories contained in one book, each written in a different genre. It totally sounded like something that would be up my alley, but it was not.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

by Italo Calvino

Pages: 260
Genre: Literary Fiction, Classic, Post-Modern
Published: October 20, 1982

Purchase: Amazon Powell’s IndieBound

2/5 stars

I just threw this book down after finishing and declared, “This book was dumb.” It didn’t start out that way, though.

I thought it was pretty clever and interesting with a guy getting a book and starting to read it when suddenly the pages are blank and he has to go try to find the rest of it. Then through a series of circumstances, he has adventures that lead to reading the beginning of ten different books.

In the beginning, I liked the back and forth between an interesting story he was reading and then what was going on to get him to the next book. I found the stories pretty interesting and was sad when they would suddenly end on a cliffhanger. I think my favorite is still the one about the guy obsessed with ringing telephones. About halfway through, it became super meta with an author’s diary entry about struggling to write and then lays out the plan for this book. This is when it lost me. I already knew this was happening so it was boring to read it all laid out. Around that time, I also thought there was a decline in the quality of the mini stories and the main story. I couldn’t wait for the book to be over since I felt like it was going nowhere.

My other complaint about the book was the relationship between the protagonist and Ludmilla. I didn’t ever get the sense that she really liked him so I was confused why they were ever really together. I could tell he was fascinated with her, but she was like most of the women in the book where they were not well written and only seemed to be objects for the men to worship or lust after. Ick.

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