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Publisher's Summary

Italo Calvino imagines a novel capable of endless mutations in this intricately crafted story about writing and readers. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler turns out to be not one novel but 10, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures, known and unknown, alive and extinct, through which two readers, a male and a female, pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.

©1979 Giulio Einaudi Editore, S.p.A., Torino; 1981 Harcourt, Inc. (translation) (P)2017 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The position of the feet during reading...

Mine were dancing!

I'll start by acknowledging that I don't really need to review the book itself: If On a Winter's Night a Traveler has long been one of my favorite books of all time. It continues to be one of the most original, inventive, delightful, thought-provoking pieces of literature I've ever encountered. It was my first Calvino book, and remains my favorite. The title caught my eye, in a bookstore, and when I opened the book to the table of contents and saw that the titled chapters formed their own tiny story of sorts, I just knew I had to read it. (And please, if you can, go look at a copy in a bookstore or library, or even online if you can find an electronic visual of the table of contents, because that is just one of the many sly, wonderful elements of this endlessly creative book that should be experienced, but really must be seen to be appreciated fully.)

But my excitement seeing this as the Daily Deal, and my irresistible dancing while listening to the first chapter (and oh, I was so nervous about the narration, but not to worry: it's marvelous!) have another source, as well. For many, many years, the first chapter of this book has been one of my top two Read-Aloud pieces to anyone who will sit still long enough to hear it. I've read it to groups of people, to individuals. It never fails to delight. And my very first time reading this book was done with my (now ex) husband: we took turns reading chapters to one another. So I have a long history with hearing this book read aloud, and it works so well. Having it in my permanent audio library, to hear at will, is a true delight.

Don't hesitate. It may not be like other books you've read (probably not); it definitely doesn't go in anything like a straight line. But the writing is sublime, the narration is lovely, and if you're a bibliophile of any degree, there are moments, passages, and whole chapters that will make you squee with delight. Go on, dodge past all those other books calling to you, get Italo Calvino's masterpiece, find a position or activity that satisfies you (this is audio, after all: you can listen in the dark, or while walking or even running--don't forget, the position of the feet during reading is of maximum importance--while baking a cake or cleaning out the garage...or even in bed!) and dive in. I suspect you won't regret.

140 of 149 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 02-09-18

Brilliant For Writers--Engaging For Listeners

As a reviewer stated--the fourth wall is completely and unutterably broken with If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Because you, my dear friend, are absolutely necessary as a character of this book.
Calvino involves you from the get-go, and if you're a writer, you'll learn SO much about the craft and engaging your audience. He critiques his own style of writing, and what a tremendous use of words and phrases. He is obviously a skilled, skilled writer.
As with any literary novel, don't expect a lot of plot but do expect some pretty fantastic writing, that ability to drag you in and look at the edges of a book's binding with new eyes. There is a bit of a detective feel to it, though, that makes it rather fun, and things, after going all over the place, wind up neat and tidy, all in clever manner.
I did, however, have to listen at x1.25 speed because Jefferson Mays, while very good, gets rather pause-y, and he lingers over some of the phrasing.
I can't tell you if this is a book you'll want to listen to in one sitting -because- the chapters split themselves in two and then pick up back at the beginning and you don't want to fall behind. Or if you'll want to listen to this in pieces -because- the writing is so good, the words/phrasing so clever and you can savor things/learn a thing or two about how to work words.
But, hey! Who am I? Don't expect perfection; do expect some cutting here and there, some genre switching; a different kind of an experience...

109 of 119 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unreal! An amazing reading for an amazing tale!

I feel unworthy writing a review for this. I'm sorry my words will be the first you see before you start, since the book you're about to listen to is otherworldly, and I don't want to taint your experience with an appraisal from a random person whose opinion you have no way of trusting. Still, for what it's worth, this is an incredible book; and I'm truthfully quite jealous of you, since you're about to experience it for the first time!

64 of 83 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An experience hard to find! Objectively beautiful!

Here we have great naration accompanied with clean audio. There are no chips or qirks in the production. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has given me a new perspective on writing. The 4th wall is abducted to offer an intimate point of view of the novelist. The book explores the uncreated "idea" of the story. This is not a casual read and if you reader, are prepared to strain your brain, it's right here, the book that you've been looking for.

37 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Exploring the Relationship of Reader and Author

This sometimes playful, sometimes pretentious novel is a study of readers and reading. The protagonist, a second person male "you" (sometimes referred to as "Reader"), buys the new novel by Italo Calvino, reads the first chapter, then finds that the printers have made a mistake, and the rest of the book is not there. His later choices of reading material also cut off at crucial points, making him seek out the publisher and attempt to uncover a conspiracy.

In this postmodern classic, Calvino adopts a different style for each of the ten interrupted novels, and for the most part is quite successful. His general style of prose (when talking to "you") is engaging. Sadly, If on a winter's night a traveler is an uneven work, with parts that are brilliant and parts one has to push oneself to read. I'm glad to have experienced it, but equally glad to be finished.

About the narrator: Jefferson Mays narrates voices and emotions well, but completely misses the playfulness of the book, reading it in a dull and serious manner. About half way through, I gave up listening and got the physical book from the library and finished it that way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Captivating, for writers and hardcore bibliophiles

I applaud the unique nature of this book that left me feeling like I’d just journeyed nowhere but can’t say it wasn’t a pleasant trip. Don’t know that I would have finished literally reading it. The narrator makes it fascinating. Not my cup of tea for many of the reasons noted in other reviews.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara
  • Out In The Wild Blue Yonder
  • 03-01-18

The Emperor Indeed Has No Clothes

To me this was a self-centered repetitive collection of words and phrases that circled around and occasionally got knotted up in themselves. No worries or concern about character development or storyline here as nothing seems to make sense or really to matter. Further, telling the reader where and how to sit and what to think and feel is beyond the control of the writer. For me the whole experience was a total waste of time. My suggestion when you read all the raving reviews is to hesitate or better yet run. I wish I had.

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • nikolas
  • Manchester, NH, United States
  • 02-13-18

Don't waste the credit

There are a just a few parts of this book worth reading and all the rest is literally nothing. No story, no wisdom, no final product.... Don't waste a credit

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Self-Satisfied Boring Claptrap

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't get even halfway through this book. I read a review that was so glowing I thought I couldn't go wrong, especially with a daily deal. One of my simple gauges for an audiobook is how much my attention drifts away from it as it develops. A truly riveting story/narration should hold my attention, should it not?

I honestly did not know what was going on after a couple hours of listening to this one because it did not hold my attention. What I do remember is both the author and the reader adopting a self-satisfied, arrogant attitude and telling me - yes literally addressing the reader - how I should be feeling and reacting to the scene they laid out. Much like if the director of a movie decided to save money on special effects and get in front of a blank screen and say "a large explosion just occurred, you should be scared."

Well, I had no such reaction. Sorry, but the writing was just not that evocative. Bored, I move on.

7 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Different type of book

This book didn't really capture my interest so it was a slog to get through. There wasn't enough different characters and so it seemed like the main character was basically lecturing. It was like listening to the most boring dinner host who is an extrovert and thinks everyone should think like them. The narrator was good. But what can you do with a story like this?