Anybody else out there a huge Italo Calvino fan?
I love his writings, and so last night, I decided to do a little investigation, to see if I couldn't find some Calvino criticism to peruse. I uncovered an article written by David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, in 2004, about his undergraduate love of Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler, and how that love has evolved with re-reading.
He had a couple of interesting things to say, buried in an article that for me, didn't say all that much – but the last line certainly caught my attention. Mitchell writes:
"...however breathtakingly inventive a book is, it is only breathtakingly inventive once. But once is better than never."
I wonder if this is true. I hesitate to agree, because I want to believe in literature's power to amaze us, to startle us out of our preconceived notions, to change the course of our thoughts and our lives. But perhaps that's just the optimist in me.
Do you agree that a work can only be "breathtakingly inventive" once – the first time you read it? Does this strike you as true of Calvino?
I know that Invisible Cities has wowed me beyond measure each of the three times I've read it, and I'm still hungering to read it again. And yet, I'm not quite sure... perhaps there is no time like the first time.