Monday, October 3, 2011

Scouring Books: Mr. Palomar

Mr. Palomar
by Italo Calvino

Originally published in 1983, this is from noted literary writer Calvino, best-known for If on a winter's night a traveler. I was at one point scheduled to read Calvino for a class in college, but the original professor was felled by ill-ness (and replaced, clumsily, by three graduate students who happened to have been in the class; one of them had been a friend from an earlier class, but I'm afraid the relationship was strained by this strange juxtaposition, since the professor had been a particularly inspired one, and he would have always been hard to replace). Anyway, so I was half-inspired to buy this book because of its name, which happened to share a term I'd used in my self-published book (you can find that in links to be found in my profile, and if you can't find that, then I'll just have to ignore your ignorance). Calvino is known as a literary writer, as I've said, which is important, because I like to believe that the best literature is "literary" literature, not "pop" literature in the form of James Patterson (which is not to say James Patterson isn't good, because he's writing in the tradition of Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett), or even the stuff you'll find in your bestseller lists or Oprah selections (though The Story of Edgar Sawtelle came pretty close), but speculative, inventive, thoughtful, insightful fiction. There really isn't much of that, and given the kind of writers drawn to that sort of thing, the results are always bound to be spotty. I found Calvino, at least in Mr. Palomor, to be a little lightweight. But he does have the reputation, so maybe when I get around to If on a... I'll think differently of him.

Bookshelf status: read.

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