Saturday, May 22, 2010
Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino
Content-wise, I wasn't as held by this short novel as much as by other Calvino works...but all the same it gave me new ideas about what can hold a novel together. Years ago in an nonfiction workshop one of my students, upon reading Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius said, it showed me new things writing can do... That feeling happens quite a bit when one first starts reading seriously as a writer... less so, the more you've read simply because you've been exposed to a lot more. But what I appreciated about this novel was how it's centered on a character's point of view--how he sees the world--more than on what happens to him. It reminded me in a few ways of The Mezzanine, perhaps it was an evolutionary step for Nicholson Baker. Anyway, my point is a lot of writers are wary of reading because they don't want to be influenced. But what I see in early classes is poorly read writers write really unimaginatively. In my experience, creativity is born of knowledge not of an absence of knowledge. So read on!