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t zero [Paperback]

Italo Calvino
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 6 1976 Harbrace Paperbound Library (Book 70)
A collection of stories about time, space, and the evolution of the universe in which the author blends mathematics with poetic imagination. Calvino does what very few writers can do: he describes imaginary worlds with the most extraordinary precision and beauty (Gore Vidal, New York Review of Books). Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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Review

Calvino does what very few writers can do: he describes imaginary worlds with the most extraordinary precision and beauty. (New York Review of Books - Gore Vidal)

About the Author

Italo Calvino (15 October 1923 – 19 September 1985) was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979). Lionised in Britain and America, he was, at the time of his death, the most-translated contemporary Italian writer.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly imaginative, if somewhat tedious. April 20 2001
By Ryan
Format:Paperback
To the people who hate this book, I grant you the freedom of your opinion, but I have to say, "You don't get it!" This isn't a narrative in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, Calvino has taken complex scientific principles and turned them into stories. Its true that there is a certain lack of character development, as the main character is a one-dimensional atomic particle (pun intended), but even so, Calvino makes him(it?) come alive in his tales. The true feature and attraction of these stories are the situation and worlds that Calvino creates. All that being said, I read this in the same day that I read Cosmicomics, which is a prior collections of similar stories featuring the same character (and, I think, a better book overall), and the artist's conceit wore a little thin. However, if you can give these books sufficient time and space(pun intended again), they are truly fun and beautiful.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it but......... May 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Not surprisingly the two early reviews give it 1 and 5 respectively: a book about which it is impossible to be neutral. Confusing,dense, boring writing there is - but also some amazing mathematic/scietific concepts whch Calvino masterly spins into stories - the logic/illogic (which are probably simultaneously both the same and opposite) outcomes baffle and amaze. The final section was more rewarding (being more time-space maths based) - couldn't get a handle on the evolutionary/biological stuff. I also suspect I want to read more about the text and continually get beneath its skin. Will read bits again and again and again. (Not a tour de force of narrative analysis compared to "if on a winter's night..." and castle of crossed destinies)
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
Calvino is one of the masters of post-modernism,
and his tales fiction highlight one of the most
fundamental concerns of the movement:
challenging notions of a "reality". t zero reigns
as Calvino's finest, most compelling work
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not finish. May 6 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Qfwfqu, an immortal being, guides the reader through the evolution of Earth. Highly repetetive with no character action.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly imaginative, if somewhat tedious. April 20 2001
By Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
To the people who hate this book, I grant you the freedom of your opinion, but I have to say, "You don't get it!" This isn't a narrative in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, Calvino has taken complex scientific principles and turned them into stories. Its true that there is a certain lack of character development, as the main character is a one-dimensional atomic particle (pun intended), but even so, Calvino makes him(it?) come alive in his tales. The true feature and attraction of these stories are the situation and worlds that Calvino creates. All that being said, I read this in the same day that I read Cosmicomics, which is a prior collections of similar stories featuring the same character (and, I think, a better book overall), and the artist's conceit wore a little thin. However, if you can give these books sufficient time and space(pun intended again), they are truly fun and beautiful.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it but......... May 12 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Not surprisingly the two early reviews give it 1 and 5 respectively: a book about which it is impossible to be neutral. Confusing,dense, boring writing there is - but also some amazing mathematic/scietific concepts whch Calvino masterly spins into stories - the logic/illogic (which are probably simultaneously both the same and opposite) outcomes baffle and amaze. The final section was more rewarding (being more time-space maths based) - couldn't get a handle on the evolutionary/biological stuff. I also suspect I want to read more about the text and continually get beneath its skin. Will read bits again and again and again. (Not a tour de force of narrative analysis compared to "if on a winter's night..." and castle of crossed destinies)
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest works of post-modernist fiction. Aug. 26 1997
By bibini@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Calvino is one of the masters of post-modernism,
and his tales fiction highlight one of the most
fundamental concerns of the movement:
challenging notions of a "reality". t zero reigns
as Calvino's finest, most compelling work
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outrageously funny, and deep enough to wash your hair March 15 2007
By robert merrick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
the notion of remembering back to when we were all dry inside and it was wet outside, before we turned ourselves inside out and carried the wet within us in a dry world is enough to recommend this book to any and all - the bit about how birds got in the world is icing on the cake.
4.0 out of 5 stars The blending of science and fantasy July 11 2014
By Dan Harlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've never read Calvino, in fact I never even heard of him until Radiolab devoted a special episode to the reading of his short story 'The Distance Of The Moon' and I immediately fell in love.

What strikes me the most - overall about Calvino - is the blending of science and fantasy. He begins his stories with a basis in scientific fact but then explores the mysteriousness of these findings through purely magical musings. For me this mix of fact and fiction is at the heart of what makes life interesting and I love that the beauty of science and math can be described so fantastically without being dry, boring, or full of footnotes and caveats.

One of my all time favorite films is Kaufman's 'The Right Stuff' based on Tom Wolfe's novel (which I have not read). In the film when John Glen makes his famous orbit, two of his fellow Mercury astronauts travel down to Australia to communicate with him on one of that country's satellite dishes. As Glen is overhead that night, outside the Australian station is an aborigine who chants and sends up the sparks from a great fire in the heaven. The sparks mix with the stars and form a perfect blend of the mystical and the factual - the human condition of attempting to explain and understand a universe he's only dimly aware of. That scene always stuck with me and now discovering Calvino I feel like I've been given an opportunity to explore that relationship even more.

As for this book in particular, there is a common theme of being trapped I found interesting. He begins talking about a single cell that suddenly multiplies into the void the cell had only been vaguely aware of previously. Other stories deal with our lives as being packets of information and light that are obliged to follow certain rules. Finally we are prisoners in a universe sized Château d'If where every point leads to every other point but never beyond the confines of the walls.

I was also impressed by the writing itself, Calvino was not a postmodern hack - he was very deliberate in his wording (albeit translated) and he was even playful with his endings and wordplay. He really thought through what he was writing and never allowed himself to get off the rails no matter how strange the subject matter. That more than anything else really impressed me because my previous experience with postmodern strangeness usually results in my detesting the author's inability to just tell a damn story.

Finally I loved that everything on the page made me think. I'm not sure if what I was thinking was what he intended, but I appreciated being able to explore those distant, fuzzy ideas that we're sometimes aware of but can never really put into words or even coherent waking thoughts. I found that to be a lot of fun.

I'm absolutely going to read more Calvino.
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