|Reading a book about reading a book about... from If on a winter's night a traveler, by Italo Calvino.|
...Adjust the light so you won't strain your eyes. Do it now, because once you're absorbed in the reading there will be no budging you. Make sure the page isn't in shadow, a clotting of black letters on a gray background, uniform as a pack of mice; but be careful that the light cast on it isn't too strong, doesn't glare on the cruel white of the paper, gnawing at the shadows of the letters as in a southern noonday. Try to foresee now everything that might make you interrupt your reading. Cigarettes within reach, if you smoke, and the ashtray. Anything else? Do you have to pee? All right, you know best.
If you know me well, chances are good that you've heard me talk about how much I love Italo Calvino and, in particular, If on a winter's night a traveler. And soon after I start talking about this book -- invariably with wide eyes and some sort of excited expression that reflects how awesome I think it is -- I get this inevitable question: "well, what exactly is it about?"
I really like answering this question. It just makes me laugh. Every time!
If on a winter's night a traveler is a book about you trying to read the book If on a winter's night a traveler!
Haha, really, I just LOLed as I typed that, y'all.
Ok, ok, I can probably do better than that. If on a winter's night a traveler is a book about a character called "you" (always addressed in the second person) who sits down to read a book called "If on a winter's night a traveler" (which, if you were wondering, happens to be written by someone named "Italo Calvino"). All "You" wants to do is read his damn book, but it turns out it's not that easy. For one, it seems that the copy he got from the bookstore was a defect: all of the chapters are the same as the first. Naturally, "You" goes back to the store to get a pristine copy of the Calvino book. He is told that none exist. Due to a printing error, the story he's been reading is actually from another novel by a Polish author. So he tries to track down that book, and...well, you get the idea. The dude just wants to finish his book! Can it really be that hard? Apparently, yes.
I don't want to give away too much, so I'll stop there. If you want to know what happens, you'll have to, um, read the book. Hmm.
* Photo by me! on a Nikon F3 with Kodak Porta 800 film.