You have been browsing your favourite sites for a while and decide to see if there are any new reviews on novelstuff.com. You’re happy when you find a review of Italo Calvino’s 1979 novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, but before you start reading you adjust your seat and tilt the screen forward a little. There, that’s better, now you’re in the optimal reading position.
It seems this novel will be quite unlike anything you’ve read before. Perhaps you have heard of this novel as a rare example of a book successfully written in the second-person, but that fact seems insignificant to the reviewer, who argues that this novel is not really about you, the reader, but about a character called ‘you, the Reader’. Perhaps you disagree with the reviewer, maybe you will post a comment, but nevertheless you admit that he has a point. So instead you ask what he liked in the novel. It is clear that it is not the loose, fragmentary plot, nor the lightly sketched characters.
The reviewer says this novel focuses on the acts of reading and writing, and it is this subject matter and the structure it uses to present this that make this novel so fascinating. Reading a novel about what happens when you read a novel can be an eye-opening experience. The structure reflects this, and takes the reader on a tour of a number of different ‘novels’.
You think that perhaps this book bears a resemblance with the work of Jorge Luis Borges or Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, both of which you like, so you excitedly rush out to buy a copy, but when you get back you can’t seem to find the review you were half-way through reading, so you click the ‘previous’ button, but instead you find a review of a completely different book.