Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Book Review and an Apology

I want to take back my earlier invectives against the short story and recommend to you the book I finished most recently, Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. It’s a pretty compact (approximately 150 pages) collection of short stories--12 in all. These are stories about the extinction of the dinosaur, the movement of the earth around the moon, the mollusk's shell, stories about atoms, matter, and the expansion of the universe. They are also stories about love, desire, embarrassment, longing. Each one is fiction, fiction grown out of a scientific fact or, perhaps, it is the other way around--perhaps it is the fiction-- the characters, the art--which give birth to the science and to the fact. Or maybe it is just that the two mingle and coil (so beautifully! so fantastically!) until it is impossible to distinguish one from the other. But, should they be distinguishable? Is it important to separate fact from fiction, science from art? Is it even possible?

This is something I think about a lot and I really don't know. I DO know, however, that this book is a real treat but if you’re looking to collect a lot of literary capital you might want to try Leah’s current friend: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

P.S. I just remembered another collection of short stories I love: Invisible Cities, also by Calvino.

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