"...you dream of rediscovering a condition of natural reading, innocent, primitive..." Calvino
Why do we read? For the stories? The characters? The universal truths? To be entertained? To escape? To learn? To forget? I don't know that I can verbalize why I read so much. All of these reasons and more, and the reasons seem to change daily and to be different with the different books I read. Sometimes I want to escape and sometimes just to be entertained. Sometimes I want to forget, and sometimes I want to learn and to remember. I suppose that's why reading works so well for me, because it's always different and always challenges me in different ways.
It's taken me several weeks to know what to say about Italo Calvino's novel, If on a winter's night a traveler, and even now I'm not sure I know exactly what I want to say. It's not so much that I found it difficult to read, once I realized what was going on and learned to suspend any expectations I might have about the book. It certainly is not a book to read for plot or character development. It seems to be a study in genres and also a study about readers and reading. Did I enjoy it? Sometimes. But also sometimes I was bored and irritated with it. Did I learn from it? Maybe, if only by being exposed to that type of experimental fiction. It seems to be a sort-of precursor to David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Reading If on a winter's night a traveler was more akin to working a jigsaw puzzle than to enjoying a good read, but I'm glad to have read it, and I certainly enjoyed reading it along with other people and following their tweets about it.