You are about to read Vel Veeter’s review of Italo Calvino’s 1979 novel If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, when you notice that Vel Veeter has begun their review of the novel in the same style of the opening of the novel. The novel begins with a second-person narrator telling you that you are reading the new novel. As you make your way into the novel, having purchased it, and the novel gets a little subjunctive here by not allowing you to skim the novel in the store, but having to take it home, some different things happen. First, as you read you find that one of the paragraphs, no a whole page, repeats. What it turns out has happened is that an entire 16 page section (the way in which novels are printed and bound) has been repeated or placed out of order. When you return the novel, you meet a woman at the store also holding a copy and both of you have had the same issue. You find her interesting (well, attractive) and you discuss the printing error and take replacement copies home with you. This leads to the discovery that the novel you meant to be reading, the Calvino novel, is actually now the text of a Polish novel. This process continues on with more mistakes.
The Review of Italo Calvino’s novel If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Vel Veeter: So when I started reading this novel, I actually had no idea what the book was about, and the description of it recommended by one of my friends didn’t sell me. I had a confession: I might be one of the only people who doesn’t like Invisible Cities, and that dislike carried over to at least one other of Calvino’s really short novels. Since then, I read a collection of his nonfiction and really enjoyed it, so I gave fiction a try again, and did really enjoy it.
As you continue to read the novel you notice that it’s broken up into multiple section, several of which are the story of you reading or at least trying to read Calvino’s novel, but keep getting waylaid in different ways. As happens, one of the things that distracts you from reading the novel is that you end up reading other novels. One of the set of novels you read or come across are by an Irish mystery novelist named Flannery (who is clearly a distorted version of Flann O’Brien who wrote a novel about a writer writer writing a novel that becomes self-aware) as well as a Japanese novelist who could be based on any number of possible writers (though for me Kobo Abe seems most likely). In addition to the novel sections, you also read several chapters worth of Flannery’s journals.
The Review of Italo Calvino’s novel If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Vel Veeter: Another book I read once where I had formed a strong book incorrect impression of before I began was Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles, which is talked about in great length (though not as long as I first remembered when I reread it) in John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I first read in high school, and then this past year. The difference between what I had imagined the novel to be and the novel itself was a gulf I had to overcome while reading. But that’s the act of reading anyway, matching up comprehension and interpretation with the actual text, while also fending off any external influences.
And now you have read Vel Veeter’s review of Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler.