I borrowed this from my girlfriend Lilia, who had it recommended it to her by one of her planner friends. It’s a little bit hard to describe. Nominally, it contains Marco Polo’s descriptions of cities to the emperor Kublai Khan. But it’s more about the exploration of different aspects of what makes cities similar and different. Each city description is only a page or two long, but the descriptions provoke strong images from the humorous to the thoughtful. It reminds me a lot of Borges, but instead of Borges’s wild imaginings taking form in short stories, Calvino uses the medium of city descriptions.
I liked it a lot – I wish I had had more time to mull it over, because it seems like the kind of book that would benefit from going back and re-reading it and digesting the connections between the various city descriptions (Calvino uses categories like “Continuous Cities”, “Cities & Names”, and “Cities & Signs”), but I had to return it to Lilia before she leaves for Europe. If I see it used, I might pick myself up a copy for further perusal.
P.S. Apparently, some of Lilia’s friends were miffed that I did not give her proper credit in my previous post about good conversations, thinking that referring to her as merely “my friend” did her a disservice. So let it be known.