Well firstly, Calvino didn’t write this novel (or antinovel, like I read somewhere) so that some random reader would read this epic book and dare to have an opinion. He has already pampered his readers enough to expect any kind of judgment on this awesome work of his. He made you the effin Protagonist for heaven’s sake or was it a master stroke on his part?
Anyways, so I read this another book, Goosebumps- Escape from the Carnival in my childhood, wherein the reader needs to make a choice from the various options given at the footnotes in order to ESCAPE from the Carnival and as a result, the book became suitable for n no. of re-reads. And no, I am not trying to establish a relationship or comparison between the two books but can’t help myself admiring this kind of experimental literature where the reader feels like a part of the book from both inside and outside.
So what could be the possible aspiration behind such inventive writing? An aim to constitute a cult or to write something which being a reader one always wants to read (He mentioned Arabian Nights more than once which could be a possible influence). Having read Invisible Cities before, I expected the unexpected from this book but didn’t expect to be completely knocked out. The structure is not the sole winner here but the content too about which I was not entirely convinced with Cloud Atlas (That reminds me, Thank you Mr. Mitchell for introducing me to Mr. Calvino). Of course there are no lessons learnt from this book, no philosophies thrown in your face to make you consider bigger questions about life but it's an experience about the experience of reading. Well Of course you can ask yourself, “ So, what kind of reader are you? Or; What kind of books you like? “ Hmmmmm
Here’s an excerpt from an interview Of Italo Calvino :
Turgenev said, “I would rather have too little architecture than too much because that might interfere with the truth of what I say.” Could you comment on this with reference to your writing?
It is true that in the past, say over the past ten years, the architecture of my books has had a very important place, perhaps too important. But only when I feel I have achieved a rigorous structure do I believe I have something that stands on its own two feet, a complete work. For example, when I began writing Invisible Cities I had only a vague idea of what the frame, the architecture of the book would be. But then, little by little, the design became so important that it carried the entire book; it became the plot of a book that had no plot. With The Castle of Crossed Destinies we can say the same—the architecture is the book itself. By then I had reached a level of obsession with structure such that I almost became crazy about it. It can be said about If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler that it could not have existed without a very precise, very articulated structure. I believe I have succeeded in this, which gives me a great satisfaction. Of course, all this kind of effort should not concern the reader at all. The important thing is to enjoy reading my book, independently of the work I have put into it.
Enjoyed to my heart’s content Sir.
Definitely a 5 star *****
P.S. I need to know the ending of that Arabian Nights story. Hope it’s available somewhere.