Dispel every other thought

February 19, 2020

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice – they won’t hear you otherwise – “I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!” Maybe they haven’t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: “I’m beginning to read Italo Calvino’s new novel!” Or if you prefer, don’t say anything; just hope they’ll leave you alone

Italo Calvino
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

If on a winter’s night a traveller is a meditation on reading, but it also deals with writing and writers. I’ve never understood why writers who write on writing get charged with creative onanism when artists are allowed to paint themselves until the Rembrandts come home or a work like Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – music about music, right? – is fine with everyone.

David Mitchell
Enter The Maze

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