The Watcher and Other Stories (Harbrace Paperbound Library)

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The Watcher and Other Stories (Harbrace Paperbound Library)

The Watcher and Other Stories (Harbrace Paperbound Library)

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A strong three stars; I really liked these scenarios and stories and the perspective Calvino brings, they just fall into the same bleak / miserable / misanthropic zone that makes it tough for me to get into Beckett and Nabakov and such. An excellent book from the Italian author of Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler, a Nobel laureate.

In the cruel speech of the poor, that name had become, by a natural process, a mocking epithet, meaning cretin, idiot, even abbreviated, in the Turin way, to its first syllables: cutu. This notion dated from the first postwar election, when people still believed that in bad weather many Christian Democrat voters—people with no great interest in politics, old people, disabled, infirm, or living in country areas with poor roads—wouldn’t stick their noses out of their front doors.The title story involves Amerigo, a rather naive young Communist who is employed as a "Watcher" at a hospital; he keeps an eye on the patients to make sure they are all aware enough to vote. Among his many works are Invisible Cities, If on a winter’ s night a traveler, The Baron in the Trees, and other novels, as well as numerous collections of fiction, folktales, criticism, and essays. Ultimately, my perseverance was rewarded, but I still would not recommend this to someone who doesn't already know and appreciate Calvino's better known works. It was discussed on the London Review of Books Past, Present, Future podcast, and I love that show so much I had to read this before I listened to the episode.

TO TRANSFORM a room into a polling place (a room that is usually a schoolroom or a courtroom, a refectory, a gymnasium, or a municipal office) only a few objects are required—those sheets of unpainted planed wood, which form the booth; that wooden box, also unpainted, which is the ballot box; the materials (register, packs of ballots, pencils, ballpoint pens, a stick of sealing wax, string, strips of gummed paper) which are given to the chairman at the moment that the “polls are legally opened”—and a special arrangement of the tables found on the spot.These people are probably lacking in a fundamental way a part of them that truly makes them human, but hey, whatever! Web icon An illustration of a computer application window Wayback Machine Texts icon An illustration of an open book.

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