Mr. Palomar, whose name purposely evokes that of the famous telescope, is a seeker after knowledge, a visionary in a world sublime and ridiculous. Whether contemplating a cheese, a woman's breasts, or a gorilla's behavior, he brings us a vision of a world familiar by consensus, fragmented by the burden of individual perception. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
The book is airy and heavy. It is humorous and depressing. It shows joy and the deepest despair. It gives answers which slip, like smoke, through the fingers.
It bears much reexamination and rereading. It is masterful.
The arrangement of the book corresponds to Palomar's classification attempts, being broken up into sections, sub-sections and sub-sub-sections, with each section having three sub-sections and each sub-section having three sub-sub-sections dealing with three different categories of experience. There is no real plot to speak of.
The result, for me, was that although some of the details were beautiful and the descriptions insightful, it felt like notes for a book rather than a book itself. Each sub-section is just two or three pages, and the book itself is little over 100 pages, so no idea seems to get fully developed. You end up with a collection of fragments, each one often quite clever and even entertaining, but not seeming to add up to any kind of meaningful whole.
This book is quite short, which will be a dissappointment to Calvino fans, yet they may well expect it. This is an amusing and enjoyable read, though I expect that it would not appeal to everyone.
Perhaps Mr Palomar is a book to read having already read some of Calvino's other works but it is worth the read for it is a reflective book on life itself.