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The Watcher and Other Stories (Harbrace Paperbound Library)

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He was a paid-up member of the party, true enough, and though he could hardly be considered an “activist,” as his nature tended toward a quiet life, he never hung back when there was something useful to be done that lay within his capacities. Calvino treats his descriptions of the inmates in the asylum with a good deal of kindness and courtesy, though it is an insane asylum after all so plenty does go awry. A story about a terrible smog, a story about terrible ants--they felt like sister-stories, for sure. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

He spoke about how this titular short story was the perfect depiction of representative democracy and told us all we need to know about how it functions. Like Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez, Italo Calvino dreams perfect dreams for us" (John Updike, New Yorker). That's why it's so surprising that a common theme in these works emerges anyway -- namely, that existence is futile and farcical and yet also must be cherished because, in the end, what else is there? TO TRANSFORM a room into a polling place (a room that is usually a schoolroom or a courtroom, a refectory, a gymnasium, or a municipal office) only a few objects are required—those sheets of unpainted planed wood, which form the booth; that wooden box, also unpainted, which is the ballot box; the materials (register, packs of ballots, pencils, ballpoint pens, a stick of sealing wax, string, strips of gummed paper) which are given to the chairman at the moment that the “polls are legally opened”—and a special arrangement of the tables found on the spot.The neighbors show us some of the strategies people adapt to defeat their daily worries, but the truth is you'll never be able to do away with such worries entirely. While “The Watcher” did have quite a few moments that gave me pause and made me consider if my impression of Calvino was totally off-base, the strengths of that story did redeem it for me. Então, de todas as coisas o que conta seria apenas o momento em que começam, quando todas as energias estão retesadas, quando só existe o futuro?

The title story, about a member of Italian Communist Party assigned to observe voting at a hospital for "incurables," is a breath-taking story!

You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. The longest story, “Cockfighter,” is an astonishing coming-of-ager about feisty Ladda, 15, who watches as her father, once the best cockfighter in town, loses his status, money, and dignity to Little Jui, 16, a meth addict whose father is the local crime boss. It depicts a day in the life of Amerigo Ormea, a dedicated Italian Communist, who acts as a poll watcher at a special elec tion station inside the walls of the Cottolengo Hospital for In curables, a city within the city of Turin.

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