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- Three short story collections: bleak, symbolic, sometimes moving
- Marcovaldo: or The Seasons in the City Questions and Answers
- Clifford D Simak 1952 City Audiobook
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- Marcovaldo, or, The seasons in the city
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January 11, New York: Alfred A. Private Parties, by Jonathan Penner.
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Marcovaldo, or Seasons in the City, by Italo Calvino. Three recent books of short fiction have as their focus contemporary life in a deteriorating environment, where the familiar surfaces of myth and autobiography are portrayed through both bleak and, at times, deeply moving symbols.
Beyond this, however, these writers share little but a common commitment to their subjects. Working in a minimalist prose style, Robison uses words poetically to convey relationships between seemingly unrelated experiences.
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The reader will note, however, that her poetry is that of the lean line and stark scene; more is implied than is stated. In ''Look at Me Go,'' the day is ''pale, the swimming season is over.
As in an art film, the values are conveyed through assumption; the reader is never told the exact significance of a conversation or gesture. The woman involves herself in a diversion rather than facing the problems of her marriage, but in the narrative cliches predominate.
Three short story collections: bleak, symbolic, sometimes moving
In the title story, ''An Amateur's Guide to the Night,'' the method is the same, with scenes in which characters express the ''correct'' thing rather than communicate.
Here, a young girl wants more than her restrictive small-town life offers: double-dating with her mother, watching TV with her grandfather, and going to the movies and eating popcorn with her family.
Her interest in the stars suggests that words as well as motivation fail her, but her resentment of confinement betrays a false understanding which seems more fictitious than personal. Robison's mastery of writing technique is evident, although one suspects that her teachers were those in writing courses rather than those of reading and experience.
She has an ear for domestic detail, but seems unable to understand what her characters are saying.
Marcovaldo: or The Seasons in the City Questions and Answers
This is the kind of fiction that appeals to readers personally unacquainted with the writer's subjects and who may mistake vagueness for profundity. It should be read for its technical skill rather than for its humanity. By contrast, Jonathan Penner's Private Parties combines literary skill with a fine sense of character, and the reader closes the book with a respect for the writer and a fondness for his people.
The characters in ''Amarillo'' are a boy and his rather reluctant python, Amarillo. The story, which could have been just another ''rites of passage'' tale, has an ending twist as logical as it is surprising. Its parallel subplot has the same character, in adulthood, looking back on his youth and the experience. Jonathan Penner writes with depth and feeling about families, relationships, and alienation.
Marcovaldo, or Seasons in the City, by Italo Calvino, is a series of tales - modern and ironic fables of urban life centering on a character who is a kind of Italian Sad Sack.
Although Calvino's characters like the author live in Italy, neither the language nor foreign setting minimize the universality of the collection.
Clifford D Simak 1952 City Audiobook
In ''The Garden of Stubborn Cats,'' a friendship between Marcovaldo and a cat shows us the city from the tabby's point of view, demonstrating that pets never belong to their owners, but possess them. In ''Santa's Children,'' the streets are filled with Santa Clauses; in homes where toys litter the lavish rugs, children puzzle over the myth of Santa Claus and the reality of Christmas among ordinary people.
Neither a political writer nor a realist, Calvino presents the contemporary experience through fictional fragments. There is a strangeness in his writing that is both poetic and speculative and has a haunting effect. Calvino succeeds where other writers fail: he breathes life into his fables and writes sparingly with a mastery that demonstrates how much detail can be safely omitted.
His is the skill of the storyteller's art, which has evolved from a time when people used the tale to explain a mystifying world. Already a subscriber?
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Marcovaldo, or, The seasons in the city
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