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Marcovaldo: Or the Seasons in the City (Helen and Kurt Wolff Books) Kindle Edition
|Length: 130 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Structure around the seasons of the year in a five year cycle, this Pythagorean world is perfect for Calvino to test his theory of time and place while at the same time providing an oblique commentary on politics, cultural mores etc. in a pattern so familiar to those familiar with his work.
Whether he is breeding rabbits, hunting for mushrooms, fishing, the troubles of Macrovaldo always entertain and usually surprise the reader. The inevitable tension between the urban world and the Arcadian aspirations of Macrovaldo are typically Calvino's. It is curious to note how Calvino has surreptitiously influenced much of the more serious Italian film makers.
This is definitely something I'll reread in the future, and I can see myself upping the stars I've given it after a reread.
First off, Calvino's prose is beautiful. It's whimsical and then suddenly grounded, and always conjures a rich world and mood, with hints of magical realism.
There's no overarching storyline. You cycle through the seasons with Marcovaldo, with each season having its own tale. Marcovaldo is an impoverished menial laborer whom you track through his various escapades to "lessen his burden and that of those around him" (as the back of the book cover says). All of these ultimately fail in simultaneously hilarious and saddening ways. Calvino explores consequences of industrialism, nuances to family relationships (Marcovaldo's wife and children are featured in most of the stories), the helplessness of the individual (but without the depressing air such ponderings often bear), and the individual's perpetual attempt to find meaning and beauty.
My favorite is the season of the poisonous rabbit (one not-so-fair autumn). Marcovaldo and the rabbit are both characters who are acutely very universally human. The juxtaposition of dissapointment/despair and humor/hope here, while also quite characteristic of the other stories in the book, had the greatest impact on me.