Tag: invisible cities

4 Books to Read By This Underrated Fantasy Writer

If you’re a fan of fantasy, you’ve probably read J.K. Rowling, Leigh Bardugo, and all the other must-read authors that swoop you up into a world of dreams and magic. But you may or may not have read Italo Calvino, an Italian journalist known for his short stories and whimsical fiction. Born in 1923, Calvino seems almost ahead of his time in fantasy and immersive settings. These magical twists always come when least expected because, in a Calvino book, anything is possible. If you want to take a dive into Calvino’s world (and come out feeling like someone unplugged your connection to reality), here are four books to try.

 

1. Invisible cities

 

Image result for italo calvino invisible cities"

image via atisuto17 on newgrounds.com

 

If you love urban fantasy, or you feel whispers of magic in the night lights of the city, Invisible Cities will feel absolutely unreal in the most beautiful way. In this collection of short stories, each chapter features the description of a whimsical city narrated by Venetian traveler Marco Polo who relays his travels through cities of memory, desire, design, the dead, and the sky.

There’s a spider-web city suspended above nothing but air on a series of nets, and inhabitants must climb around to get from place to place. There’s a city of waste where residents only use everything one time before throwing it away- one bar of soap per hand wash, one set of sheets and pillow per night’s sleep. There is a city that is forever under construction to prevent its destruction and a city of wells and buckets built over a massive lake.

Invisible Cities combines fantasy, metaphor, and social commentary in an absolutely breathtaking read.

 

2. IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER

 

Image result for book with cut up pages"

image via archzine.com

 

The first time you open If On A Winter’s Night A Travelerit’ll feel something like trying to read this. This book is about you, the reader, trying to read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino, but you keep receiving incomplete copies missing parts of the plot, or completely different books altogether. As a result, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler (and we never find out what that traveler does on a winter’s night) ends up combining about eight different plots for novels in total, each one more intriguing than the next. We never find out the endings. It’s just as frustrating as it is fascinating and addictive. In fact, this meta novel is more about the experience of the reader. Calvino uses the opportunity to make fun of books, readers, writers, publishers, translators, booksellers, and anti-readers in a way that’s strangely relatable.

If you love reading and meta stuff, this is definitely a book for you.

 

 

3. THE BARON IN THE TREES

 

Image result for baron in the trees"

image via dribble

 

When you were a kid, did you ever dream about running away from home and living in the forest, maybe building a treehouse where you can sulk in peace? The Baron in the Trees is the story of Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian boy who had similar feelings after a fight with his family. He ran away into the trees and proceeded to live there for the rest of his life. Cosimo creates a whole world for himself in the trees, making friends, helping others, and solving worldly problems.

This book is for any fantasy lover who has elaborate dreams of escape into a world of their own making.

 

4. MARCOVALDO: The SEASONS IN THE CITY

 

Image result for seasons in the city calvino"

Image via ioannagalanomati.blogspot.com

 

I like to think of Marcovaldo as cartoons come to life. Marcovaldo is an unskilled worker living in an Italian industrial city. He’s just trying to live a normal life and care for his family, but more often than not his imagination gets the best of him. Imagine the scene in cartoons where a person gets covered in a pile of snow and becomes a snowman. This happens to Marcovaldo. Imagine the scene where a person falls asleep on a raft in the middle of a lake and drifts over a waterfall, still sleeping. This also happens to Marcovaldo. Anything and everything happens to Marcovaldo, and fantasy just keeps intruding on the boring monotony of his working life.

If you’re a daydreamer who would rather chase fantasy than stay grounded in reality, you’ll probably relate to Marcovaldo as much as I did.

 

Basically, if you’ve never read Calvino and you’re in the mood for some fantasy that is also self-aware and unique, you HAVE to try one of these.

 

 

 

Featured image via telegraph.co.uk

Picture of Dragonstone, highlighting the beach in the front and a few of the dragons flying to the keep.

5 Fictional Places We Wish Were Real

It’s only the middle of the week and you are waiting to go to the beach or counting down the days until vacation. For some, maybe you’re just waiting for the weather to not be so humid.

 

But some of our favorite books provide even better summer escape destinations. If only these were real…

 

1. The Capitol from “The Hunger Games”

Image of The Capitol, which shows a sleek city in daylight, highlighting a modern bridge.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

 

Yes, absolutely, it’s a symbol of oppression and tyranny, but it also seems like a technological paradise. The Capitol lifestyle is needlessly excessive, but some of the excesses are pleasant. For instance, imagine finishing an entrée at a restaurant only to realize your date’s meal tastes better. The Capitol’s got you covered: just drink their special concoction, and you have room for a second dinner. Second dinner! Imagine that.

 

2. Rivendell from “The Lord of the Rings”

Image of Rivendell, which is a nice city perched in a valley, surrounded by waterfalls.

Image courtesy of Vanderstelt Studio

 

Whether in the movies or the books, Rivendell is the perfect postcard destination. Relax in a small city perched in a deep valley, listen to water rushing down from dizzying heights or walk along the gorgeous bridges connecting the various buildings. Some serious business may be being discussed by the Council of Elrond, but numerous great writers have also found this location to be a killer spot to write. Bilbo Baggins is just one!

 

3. Octavia from “Invisible Cities”

Illustration of Octavia, which is a bunch of buildings suspended over a mountain.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

 

Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” contains dozens of descriptions of fascinating locales. Per Marco Polo’s description, Octavia sounds especially mind-bending. It’s a city suspended over an abyss, described to be like a spider-web. Sure, it’ll fall at any moment, but a short weekend getaway might be exciting. Imagine coming out of work and looking down at nothingness. Breathtaking!

 

4. The Ministry of Magic from “Harry Potter”

Picture of the Ministry of Magic, which features a big statue of a gryffin in the center of a complex.

Image courtesy of Pottermore

 

Getting caught in rush hour is frankly soul crushing. Whether it’s a messed up train schedule or bumper-to-bumper traffic, the commute can often be the most harrowing part of the work day.

 

Nevertheless, magic may prove to be the answer to all these problems. Just hop into a fireplace (unlit preferably), use some Floo Powder, and, poof, you’re home from work. Imagine having offices in The Ministry of Magic! The idea of avoiding the evening rush is the most magical gift J.K. Rowling has bestowed.

 

5. Dragonstone from “Game of Thrones”

Picture of Dragonstone from Game of Thrones, which is a stark looking fortress overlooking an ocean.

Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Wiki

 

The massive walkway can be tiresome, but stumbling upon a vacant fortress would be a nice change of pace. Between the gorgeous dragon engravings and beachfront view, Dragonstone makes a splendid gothic getaway. It’s an especially welcome change if you’ve just come from Meereen and are staging a coup for the Seven Kingdoms. We can all relate to that.

 

Featured image courtesy of Daily Dot