Monthly Archives: June 2022

These stories are out there

Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cosmicomics is an immensely creative set of short stories by Italo Calvino. Although they’re not all fantastic, they’re all at least interesting and fun to read and think about.

Each story starts with some kind of scientific concept statement (e.g., the sun taking two hundred million years to make a complete rotation around the galaxy). The story then involves the narrator, Qfwfq, recounting an experience with the concept (e.g., trying to place signs so that others would know they were there). That example is from “A Sign in Space,” one of the standouts in the collection. “The Aquatic Uncle,” “The Dinosaurs,” and “The Light-Years” were my other favorites. These showed a wicked sense of humor and felt human and accessible. Some of the others were dry and a bit too plodding and cerebral for my tastes.

Calvino is certainly a unique writer. Whereas the surrealists examined the unconscious mind, these stories are fabulist; they’re just all over the place and will go anywhere. No doubt they’re very creative, but they can be jarring to read and inconsistent.

I absolutely loved Calvino’s novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. I wouldn’t say these stories quite rise to that level, but they’re worth a read if you like experimental, somewhat challenging fiction.