Books: Spectacles Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino

by Italo Calvino Translated by William Weaver Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 130 pages; $12.95

Thanks to the time warp of translation, not all new books by Italo Calvino that appear in English are actually new. Both Marcovaldo (1983) and Difficult Loves (1984) offered short stories that the Italian author wrote more than two decades ago, when his talents were entertainingly restricted to earthly realities. Mr. Palomar, on the other hand, belongs to the later vintage of Calvino's fiction. Like such works as Cosmicomics (1968) and Invisible Cities (1974), this novel uses the recognizable world primarily as an excuse for the launching of antic metaphysics.

The hero emerges through a series of vignettes connected to one...

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