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Numbers in the Dark : And Other Stories…

Numbers in the Dark : And Other Stories (Vintage International) (original 1993; edition 1996)

by Italo Calvino

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841915,469 (3.89)12
Title:Numbers in the Dark : And Other Stories (Vintage International)
Authors:Italo Calvino
Info:Vintage (1996), Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:weirdfiction, short stories, book group

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Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories by Italo Calvino (1993)

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English (6)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This collects a number of different Italo Calvino short stories, ranging across his entire career. I think they're all stories that haven't been previously published in English. At least, they were all new to me, and I've read a fair few Calvinos at this point. The book opens with a number of goofy 2-3-page stories on various absurd topics (the town where everything was forbidden, or the country where everyone is a thief). These are fun, if flimsy. A lot of later authors have done stuff that reminds me of this (such as Jonathon Keats in The Book of the Unknown, or Michael Ajvaz in The Golden Age, though there are probably better examples), but Calvino was first, and let's be honest, he's probably the best.

The later stuff is longer, and it's all your typical Calvinoesque meanderings, but it's usually good, and when it's not, there's another one along in ten pages or so. I was a big fan of "The Lost Regiment," where an entire regiment goes missing in a very confusing town, or "A General in the Library," where a library is occupied by the military to find subversive material, only they turn out to like reading a whole lot. Come to think of it, there's a lot of stories here that satirize military thickheadedness, which makes sense for someone who resisted the Italian government during World War II. There are also interviews with a Neanderthal, Montezuma, and Henry Ford, which is a weird selection, but entertaining enough.

I have a fondness for his stories that are just ordinary (or seemingly ordinary) people overthinking very small moments. Mostly because I assert that that's what all of us do, or at least it's what I do, which is close enough.

Also good: "The Workshop Hen," about a crackdown on a hen in a workshop and the sadness and bureaucracy that ensues; "Beheading the Heads," about a gruesome tradition in a foreign country; "The Burning of the Abominable House," which reads like Calvino's take on the Clue film; and "Implosion" and "Nothing and Not Much," a couple Qfwfq stories (the same guy/entity/thing who starred in Cosmicomics and t zero).

The best story was "World Memory," about a computer that records all things, and the implications that has for a jealous husband. It actually feels very Stanislaw Lemesque, but then, I always assert that Calvinoesque is Lemesque.
1 vote Stevil2001 | Apr 14, 2013 |
A varied and interesting collection of stories, from little parables, to 'interviews', to mysteries. These have been written over some forty years, and show how varied Calvino can be.

Some of the earlier stories are almost boring, but many of the middle and later ones are excellent, among his best work, with Invisible Cities and Cosmicomics. Read it for those. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Calvino makes me feel happy and a bit dim. Part way through a Calvino story I get this aha moment where I realize he is writing a story that is impossible to get right and then I am amazed when he gets it right.

Stories that take place between the placing of a call and before you say hello. Stories that transform the invisible cities into women. Worlds where the leaders can be leaders, but they are executed on a schedule. Stories where all of the action (murder, arson, seduction, etc.) takes place in a programmer's head while he codes for an insurance agency... ( )
1 vote snarkhunt | Apr 15, 2010 |
product of a brilliant mind: this engaging collection of stories shows calvino's versatility.playfully absurd fables, mind-bending exercises in combinatorics, "interviews" with somewhat deranged historical figures, glaciation interrupting a romantic encounter, an encylopedia of all human knowledge... these ideas and more are all expressed with humor, economy and wonderful style.
2 vote iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
This is a collection of short stories, some of which have been in newspapers or magazines, and others which hadn't been previously published. Some of them were exciting, deep, engaging, and enjoyable to read. The majority of them had at least two of these qualities, but there were a few that I think I must have missed the point on, as I was just hoping that they would end. Others were over too soon, and could have benefited with a few more pages, as I had become involved in them. If it wasn't for the few duds I would have given this book a 4 and a half.
I would recommend this book to those who like short stories, as Calvino seems to write these best. With some of his longer books being just a collection of shorter pieces at heart, like Invisible Cities and If On A Winters Night. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Sep 4, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Calvino, Italoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Calvino, EstherPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kangas, HelinäTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parks, TimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679743537, Paperback)

For the first time in paperback--a volume of thirty-seven diabolically inventive stories, fables, and "impossible interviews" from one of the great fantasists of the 20th century, displaying the full breadth of his vision and wit.  Written between 1943 and 1984 and masterfully translated by Tim Parks, the fictions in Numbers in the Dark display all of Calvino's dazzling gifts: whimsy and horror, exuberance of style, and a cheerful grasp of the absurdities of the human condition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:20 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Several dozen stories by the late Italian writer. In Nothing and Not Much, a creature which witnessed the birth of the world describes the event, Henry Ford is an analysis of a captain of capitalism, and in Beheading the Heads, politicians are regularly executed to keep them on their toes.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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