Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Castle of Crossed Destinies (89th Book)

I picked up The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino  at my lovely local library. I have loved having a big city library so close to my house. It means that whenever I want something it is almost always on hand. This book has intrigued me since I first picked up the list of 1001 books to Read Before You Die.  The novel is basically told through a series of Tarot cards which are used by a room full of mute travellers to tell the story of how they came to be at both a castle and a tavern. I loved the concept.

The thing I found with this novel is that I liked the idea better than the execution. The stories were moderately interesting and the majority of them where stories we had heard before. I found the interweaving of the tales with Tarot cards to be a bit challenging. My reading was broken up as I looked at the pictures and compared them to the stories. I don't think I was ever really lost in the story at any given point.

I love the theme which is that all tales are based on similar archetypes and that all stories intersect with others. The story made me get on a very real level that we share a common destiny with our fellow travellers in this life. I particularly loved the Tale of the Waverer which, I believe, is the first that Italo Calvino created when he wrote the novel. The tale follows a man who can not make a decision. He is asked to choose between his two lady loves, which he is unable to do. He then journeys through a forest only to find his way barred from the City of All. "Are you admitted even into the City of All only through a choice and a rejection, accepting one side and rejecting the rest?" I love that we get to choose our path as human beings. We are in control of our destiny which is both a blessing and a curse. Somewhere in my teen years I began to see that choice was freedom and instead of being bound by the fear of making a wrong choice, I embraced the chaos of deciding. Life has never been so much fun!

This book is a very short and fun read. I look forward to picking up more of Calvino's works as several of them make up the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.

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