Tuesday, January 21

If on a winter's night a booklover...

A book for booklovers about books.  A story within a story within a story.  In which YOU the READER are the hero.  

I bought If on a winter's night a traveller by Italian writer, Italo Calvino, as a celebratory gift to myself after completing my first year of uni.  I didn't read it straight away.  It had an air of mystery that seemed too enchanted to disturb and such a modest cover that it was forgotten in favour of more exciting books.  

I picked it up today.  

If on a winter's night a traveller is written in the 2nd person.  This is not a familiar format for novels and it's rarely done justice because it's so fiddly and tricky to do.  If 1st person is 'I', 'we', 'our' and 3rd person is 'he', 'she', 'it', then 2nd person is 'you'.  'You' do this.  'You' do that.  The obvious advantage of 2nd person is it makes the reader the protagonist, implanting them in the plot.  

Here is the first paragraph for your enjoyment:
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.    Relax.  Concentrate.  Dispel every other thought.  Let the world around you fade.  Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room.  Tell the other's right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!"  Raise your boise - they won't hear you otherwise - "I'm reading!  I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!"  Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone.  
Italo Calvino.  1980.  If on a winter's night a traveller.  p 1.

What do you think?  I find it's like being whispered a secret - it's such a different sort of reader participation.  

I'm hoping this little taste will incite you to trap it and read along.  It's only a small book, very manageable and thrilling with novelty and intrigue from the first page.  I can hardly wait to see where it leads.  

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