"If a winter''s night a traveller...", that is the title that attracts a first reader---the Reader---who will come into the bookshop to get the latest book by Italo Calvino. We will know the thoughts and impulses of this character through the Author, who often speaks in second person. There he will find Ludmilla---the Reader(ess)---engrossed in the same book. They talk and decide to stay in touch in order to comment on the story both are dealing with. But, their reading in progress, the Reader realizes that his copy is defective: a booklet has been exchanged from another book, interrupting the exciting entrance of a passenger into a station with a suitcase. So the Reader''s interest is avidly suspended. In contact with the Reader(ess), they decide to go to the library to be provided with another book ready to be read, but all the edition is faulty and, moreover, they are already interested in the story that the invasive booklet starts, which belongs to a famous novel by a Polish writer. So they change the reading and get caught by the new plot, also aborted due to linguistic issues: the third chapter is in another language. This way, they go over ten chapters, which correspond to ten beginnings of different stories that remain suspended. In between, Ludmilla''s relationship with the Reader and the Author fluctuates. This is a new way of thinking about literature: an artifice, a combinatorial game. "You have to make visible the structure of the narrative for the reader---says this trend---and thus increase their complicity in the work". The universe of language has replaced reality and presents the story as "a mechanism that plays with the possible combinations of words". Calvino is not as strict as the structuralists: his language is clearer and more understandable, but it still moves in Queneau
''s direction, in Borges
''s labyrinthine writing, all of them debtors, of course, of the so called "father of the avantguard narrative of this century": Lawrence Sterne
, author of "Tristam Shandy
", well-known novel praised by all the writers of 20th C. Although in this specific field we must not forget the means that were used by the great predecessor work: "The Thousand and One Nights
". But Calvino uses this framework so literarily attractive to bare the mechanisms of narrative that take him to reflect on the practice of writing and the relationship between writer and reader. In addition, Italo Calvino takes each chapter as a reference point to illustrate the models and styles of the modern novel, from the neo-avant-garde to neo-realism, from the existential to the fantastic and surreal model. In each of the chapters he changes of style, masterfully sticking to the period portrayed. But this is a serious game, I''d rather say dramatic, because what the author ultimately wants is to demonstrate the impossibility of obtaining the knowledge of reality. Despite all this seemingly artificial structure, the work is read avidly for several reasons: the interest that each episode arises aided by reflections on writing, the suspense created in each chapter, and especially for the wonderful writing style, how to use language and words in particular, and one more reason: the author''s direct relationship with the reader, so often missed. A great vantage point to see also the literary trends of the past century''s literature. If the reader gets into the author''s keys, it can be a truly exciting reading.