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The Castle of Crossed Destinies Paperback – April 16, 1979
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Top Customer Reviews
As concept art or an experiment in narrativity this is ingenious. I love it. But it's not just concept art. (Ah, and I realise that "just" is dodgy. I'm not quite sure where it might lead.) This is a book. Books are meant to be read. This ingenious structure results in dull, uninspired stories. I'm exhausted after two: I've seen the structure (concept, gimmick) and I'm sated.
The concept is cool but then what? Is a gimmick enough? I suppose that depends on what you want. I mostly want more.
In the first section, a traveler comes to a castle full of other guests, but for some reason no one there is able to speak. To tell each other about their histories, they use a pack of tarot cards to communicate their stories -- tales about love affairs, ancient cities, and Faustian pacts.
The second is pretty much the same, except that it takes place in a tavern, where mute people are still using tarot cards to describe their pasts. The stories -- evil queens, fallen warriors, even an Arthurian tale -- get darker and stranger, especially when the narrator himself began to describe his own past to the people who are watching him and the cards.
As an idea, tarot cards being used to tell a story is brilliant. Especially since the stories that Calvino spins out are not necessarily the only interpretation -- each card used to tell the story can be interpreted differently. The problem is, in the first half of the book, Calvino tries to apply this to some very boring, straightforward little stories. They tend to stop suddenly, without much of a finale.
The second half of the book uses this gimmick more skilfully, with Calvino writing in greater detail, and using more ornate, atmospheric writing. It feels less like stories wrapped around some cards, and more like stories with cards as illustrations of what might have been. He also adds a more eerie, macabre tale to this half, making it even more engaging.
The first half sags in a big way; it's almost tiring to read. But the second half of "Castle of Crossed Destinies" is where Calvino's tarot gimmick starts to pay off. Interesting, but not all that it could have been.
All of that aside, the concept proved to be more than Calvino could adeptly handle. (He admitted to never being completely satisfied with the book and finally published it as a way to put it to rest) However, I don't think I've ever read another author who could have handled the subject matter better than Calvino. All in all, I would only recommend this to Calvino's most devoted admirers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
having read tarot cards for 20 years i was rather excited, when i seen this made reference to in another book that i wanted to read it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by tabi
Great book, but you need some basic tarot knowledge to get the best of if.Published 8 months ago by ELIO SUAREZ ACEVEDO
A bit too clever to be completely enjoyable. I wish his books could just be books and not some complicated literary masterpiece.Published 10 months ago by David Adams
Fantastic book! I'd highly recommend this as much as any of Calvino's work.Published 18 months ago by Timothy M
I'm giving this book a 5 star rating purely for its ingenuity, this book would be a must read for those interested in the tarot, it's fascinating how the author has weaved the... Read morePublished on February 28, 2013 by Anwar
Great 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19Published on January 21, 2013 by Heather Hunter-hendricks
Students of the tarot can hardly put time to better use than to study this little book. It is entertaining; it is often profound and startling; but most usefully it details a novel... Read morePublished on November 16, 2012 by Phebe
It's sort of like the Canterbury tales or Decameron with Tarot cards. A bunch of people try and communicate their stories by assembling the cards into different configurations, and... Read morePublished on March 3, 2012 by jafrank