Mr Palomar

Mr Palomar - Italo Calvino I'd started reading this book a long time ago but didn't get very far for reasons long since forgotten. Having just re-read the brilliant 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveller', I picked it up again. Being by Calvino, one of my literary heroes, I knew it would never be less than interesting.

The book has no story as such at all, comprising a series of reflections. That rules it out for all of those readers who like their fiction to be plot-driven. And in the hands of another writer, this might be a recipe for tedium. Calvino, of course, wasn't just another writer. In William Weaver's translation, the prose is beautifully spare and exact. The melancholic, philosopher-fool Palomar is a wonderful invention. His meditations upon anything from waves to a gecko to a Parisian cheese shop are a joy, at once comic and profound. 'Mr Palomar' reminds me of Bodil Malmstem's 'The Price of Water in Finistère'. It is a Tardis of a book - outwardly slight and yet, between its covers, gaining in depth and weight.