The Boundaries “You” Breaks

            First, I wanted to say that I agree with what cmckenz7 said about how Calvino’s novel is more about reading rather than writing. It seems like there is a definite method to the author’s crazy narration. However, it is very relevant to point out the author’s awareness and understanding of how readers process the information that is given to them. For instance, just when I started to ask myself what the hell I was reading, Calvino states, “What kind of book did they sell you, anyway?” (26). He knows when you are getting confused, so he often chimes in with reviews of what is going on. After “You” are at the bookstore, trying to return the book, and the clerk says they can get you a new book, the author or narrator comes back and says, “Hold on a minute. Concentrate.” It’s as if Calvino knows he is losing your attention for a moment, so he pulls you right back in.

             Personally, I love the way the author is able to do this. I found it very difficult to keep myself from reading this entire book in one sitting. I’m sure that other readers would disagree, particularly, one of the novel’s primary characters Ludmilla. It seems she represents the readers who would find this book frustrating. She says, “I prefer novels…that bring me immediately into a world where everything is precise, concrete, specific. I feel a special satisfaction in knowing that things are made in that certain fashion and not otherwise, even the most commonplace things that in real life seem indifferent to me” (30). She appreciates the most conventional novels, novels that can guide her into a new world, but in a way that she is familiar with. This novel is rather the opposite of “concrete” and “specific.”

            Still, Calvino does state, “there are themes that recur, the text is interwoven with these reprises, which serve to express the fluctuation of time” (25). On recurring “themes” and “reprises,” I kind of feel like there are parallels between Ludmilla and the female character in Learning from the steep slope. The female character from the LFSS asks the male character to purchase a grapnel for her (63). She explains, “I dare not do it myself, because a young lady from the city who shows interest in a crude fishermen’s implement would arouse some wonder.” Now jump to chapter 5 where Ludmilla instructs “You” to go to the publishing company on “your” own. She explains, “There’s a boundary line: on one side are those who make books, on the other those who read them, so I take care always to remain on my side of the line” (93). So, there is this theme of boundaries recurring throughout the novel, not just regarding gender classes, and the line between readers and writers, but also the boundaries that the author is breaking within his style of writing.