Cosmicomics (1965)

Italo Calvino

This was a struggle. I had to force myself to read on at times. I found a lot of the stories slow and a little boring. Which was a surprise as I expected to like Calino’s writing. But I feel like I need to read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller for proper context on how these stories relate to Calvino’s work as a whole. I chose this book as a random entry point. I had heard of his novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller and its method of writing in the second person perspective. I’d seen this lampooned in a Fred Negro cartoon and know someone who loved it and whose taste I respect, at least in literature. I’m still very interested in reading book but I doubt I’ll ever read this collection of short stories again. The stories are ok. They’re often poetic and almost always very smart and scientific (at least for 1965) but they are, for me, boring and often don’t provide the reader with anything other than an attempt at providing a different perspective about the idea of the cosmos and infinity. These ideas start off interesting but by the last story I found them mundane.

I’ve read that these stories were constructed around scientific facts and so perhaps round pegs were forced to fit into square holes at times. Perhaps Calvino wrote each piece easily and fast. Each story is written with a calm assurance but none of them stretch themselves to provide anything other than a narrative based around science and the cosmos. Perhaps, in ’65, with much of this science brand new these stories seemed far more important than they do now. A similar problem I had reading Portney’s Complaint and the erosion of its central taboos. Another classic I struggled to enjoy. Though again I’ll wait until reading more Calvino to decide how I feel about his writing.

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