If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler Readalong Mid-way Point

Friday, November 15, 2013

Care is hosting our mid-way check in at her blog, so make sure you stop by and see what everyone else is saying. The first half flew by for me and I’m looking forward to the rest. 

Stop back by here for the final wrap up post on November 30th. 

I’m having serious Cloud Atlas flashbacks with this book. Not only does it have a similar structure (Cloud Atlas was apparently partially inspired by this book) but it has an equally gorgeous writing style.

The book opens with one of my new favorite intros. The author goes through a whole spiel about settling in before you start the book. Get comfortable, let the world around you fade and then dive in. From there we begin the novel “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” set in a train station. Soon we are back to the reader’s point of view as the story breaks off.  

From there it’s a wild goose chase to find the rest of the book. Instead of finishing “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” our reader (as well as the actual readers) are introduced to one new story after another and we also meet the "other reader" who trying to track down the same book. 

First Outside the Town of Malbork, then “Leaning from the Steep Slope” featuring Miss Zwida and a prison break. I particularly loved this section. Then we are introduced to “Without Fear of Wind or Vertigo,” followed by a Parisian murder and Ruedi the Swiss in “Looks Down in the Gathering Shadow.”

It’s like a rabbit hole for bibliophiles. It's a book about the magical experience of reading a book for the first time; not knowing where it will tale you, but blindly following where the author leads. 

So far the stories seem unconnected except for a few elements, but I’m hoping it all comes together in the second half. 

“There are plenty, younger than you or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experience: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store.” 

“Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be…”


Anonymous said...

I liked the prison break story, too. It IS easy to get confused in all this. But I'm not disliking it. It seems that I fall right into each section pretty easily.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

bkclubcare - I agree, it's not what I was expecting, but it's so interesting.

Anonymous said...

hmm, I gave up on Cloud Atlas, but Calvino's book is one of my favorite. I also read Invisible Cities. I love Oulipo writers, the French Georges Pérec is quite interesting too

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

wordsandpeace - I'll have to check those out! Thank you for the recommendations!

JoAnn said...

This has been such a strange experience for me - way outside my comfort zone. Not at all sure I "get it", but am certainly enjoying the ride. Have been out of town and never got a midpoint post written, but will definitely check in at the end.

P.S. The comparison to Cloud Atlas scares me… I've ben avoiding that book for years.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

JoAnn - I feel the same way, it's strange but good. I was scared of Cloud Atlas and I'm really glad I read it with a group. I ended up really enjoying it, but the first section is just horrible to get through. If you try it, just hang in there until the second section!