Yes, I’m on the move again. This book is technically my Cuba read, since that is where the author was born, but the book takes place entirely in the Italy of the 1940s. The Path to the Spiders’ Nests by Italo Calvino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pin is an orphaned boy being raised by his prostitute sister. He bums cigarettes off the German soldier who frequents his sister’s bed and drinks off the men at the local tavern. He mocks and sings for adults, with whom he is more at ease than with other kids. One day the local resistance committee member is at the bar recruiting, and Pin is asked to steal the German’s gun. In this way, Pin is drawn into the local resistance movement and ends up an assistant to the cook of a unit in the mountains. The Path to the Spiders’ Nests is Italo Calvino‘s first novel, and it is quite different stylistically from his later work. However, this edition, published only after years during which the author prohibited republication, contains a preface which is a reflection on the book itself, his writing process, his time own time in the resistance, and the Italian Neo-realist literary movement. This preface is very much like some of Calvino’s later work, and is a fascinating look at his ideas about writing. Calvino had clear regrets about the novel, and especially the ways in which he had misrepresented the characters of men he had known in the war in order to fit his literary purposes. The novel is poignant and an interesting read, but I would give the novel itself only three or three and a half stars. The preface, however, makes it a much better and more interesting book.