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Customer Review

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I lost Mr Palomar!, 27 Aug. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Mr Palomar (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I had never heard of Italo Calvino when I found this in a university second hand bookshop. I loved the name of another of his books on the shelf, "Adam, One Afternoon", and bought "Mr Palomar" because it was cheaper, and I liked its title too.
I was excited, feeling I'd found a book that was about to do what I like books to do, not get bogged down in plot, but explore character, quirks and observations.
The first story/tale/segment/chapter, "Reading a Wave" was intriguing. I enjoyed it. I felt there was plenty of Mr Palomar in his reading of a wave, and felt I was getting to know this character, through his observations, and his inclination to actually be watching a wave.
The second, "The Naked Bosom", too, gave me an insight into Mr Palomar, who by now I liked. I loved the humour in that short piece.
Then, I started to drift. Perhaps I was a bad reader, perhaps this book cannot be done justice a chapter a night, in bed, but the next, longer piece, felt quite external to me, and I started losing Mr Palomar. I started to get bored by his observations and thought patterns in a way I didn't expect. I like minutiae, I like contemplation, I like obsessions written down, but this, to me, was too much reading about things in which I was not interested. It started to feel like a catalogue.
I did enjoy Mr Palomar's thoughts on tortoises, blackbirds, the moon, cheese, goose fat...there are sparks of bleak humour throughout, and glimpses of Mr Palomar, but I found myself scanning sections of text, willing the next section to come along in the hope that it would grip me more.
I plan to re-read this book of short pieces, perhaps more carefully, because thinking about it now, and looking back at sections whilst writing this review, I am sure I should like it more than I did on first reading. Reading the back again, it sounds just the sort of book I should love! I feel the book deserves, and perhaps needs, a very careful, uninterrupted reading, in which you can completely immerse yourself in all observations and details.
The stars rating is tricky. I was left feeling slightly disappointed, but looking back, there are such brilliant moments, and I adore the matter-of-fact style of writing, and exploration of "the thingness of things" as one reviewer puts it, through this lovely character, that I have to rate it highly.
Sorry for the slightly confused tone of this review.
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