Monday, October 21, 2013

A November Readalong


You all know how much I enjoy a good readalong, right? Well, I was pretty happy to learn that Melissa and Care are teaming up for a November Readalong of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. It's going to be pretty low key - begin reading in November, post some thoughts mid-month (if you want to), and wrap it all up December 1. We will also use the hashtag #ReadCalvino to keep in touch via twitter.

That sounds pretty simple, plus it's a short book and I've been curious about it for a long time. I'm especially glad to be reading this one with friends since Calvino intimidates me. Actually, anything even vaguely experimental intimidates me.


Here is the summary from goodreads:

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler  is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration--"when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded." Italo Calvino's novel is in one sense a comedy in which the two protagonists, the Reader and the Other Reader, ultimately end up married, having almost finished If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.  In another, it is a tragedy, a reflection on the difficulties of writing and the solitary nature of reading. The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: "Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." Alas, after 30 or so pages, he discovers that his copy is corrupted, and consists of nothing but the first section, over and over. Returning to the bookshop, he discovers the volume, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by the Polish writer Bazakbal. Given the choice between the two, he goes for the Pole, as does the Other Reader, Ludmilla. But this copy turns out to be by yet another writer, as does the next, and the next. 
The real Calvino intersperses 10 different pastiches--stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition--with explorations of how and why we read, make meanings, and get our bearings or fail to. Meanwhile the Reader and Ludmilla try to reach, and read, each other. If on a Winter's Night  is dazzling, vertiginous, and deeply romantic. "What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space."
Intrigued? Check out Melissa's and Care's announcement posts - they convinced me!

19 comments:

  1. I have this in my library pile, for my century of books, so I might just tag along. I'm not great with experimental writing, but the concept and the prose are too lovely to resist.

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    1. That would be great, Jane! I think we can all get through this together :)

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  2. Ugggh I wish I could get my act together long enough to actually participate and read in a read-a-long. I start out with good intentions and then poof - they are gone. Lol. Hope you enjoy this one.

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    1. Darlene - I seem to have that trouble with readalongs lasting more than a month. Glad this one is short and sweet!

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  3. I think I might do this. Calvino is one of the gaps in my reading history.

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    1. Amy - Yay! Have you read much experimental literature? We'll see how this goes...

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    2. No. So it might be good for me. Or not. ;-)

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  4. This has been on my TBR for such a long time. I am going to see if I can get it from the library.

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  5. I won't even read what goodrads oranyone has to say about it. I want to dive in blind

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  6. Care - It's probably better that way ;-)

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  7. I've been curious about this book for a long time, too. I'm glad I'm reading Within A Budding Grove with Arti for November, but if I wasn't I'd surely love to be able to join all of you! Looking forward to your thoughts on Calvino.

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    1. Bellezza - I think it's wonderful that you and Arti are reading more Proust, and I will certainly look forward to your thoughts, too. Proust is even scarier than Calvino ;-)

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  8. I think I'm going to join this readalong. I've thought about reading Calvino for a while now but for me his books are intimidating. So a readalong is the perfect way to approach his books...I think & hope anyway. I'm happy you'll be joining, too!

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    1. Amy - I'm so happy you'll be reading with us!

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  9. I'm glad you're joining in! I love reading books that scare me a bit as part of a readalong. It's easier to stick with it when others are going through it too!

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    1. Melissa - Exactly! I look forward to getting started.

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  10. I would so, so love to join you. I've been wanting to read Calvino for so long. But I really need to concentrate on getting through books I have for review and books for challenges. Still...I might just try to sneak this one in!

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    1. Lisa - Hope you make it through review and challenge books quickly... would love to have you read with us!

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