The Distance of the Moon

“Climb up on the Moon? Of course we did. All you had to do was row out to it in a boat and, when you were underneath, prop a ladder against her and scramble up.”


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Four flights of fancy, these selections from Calvino’s Cosmicomics “interweave scientific fact with wordplay and whimsy”. They tell the history of the universe, witnessed through the eyes of Qfwfq, an exuberant, always extant, chameleon-like figure. But the most extraordinary part isn’t the plot, or the prose, but the opening phenomena, which were once thought to have been real, scientific events. 🌑

The Distance of the Moon: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The first half was filled with delightful, phosphorescent imagery. But the hollow characterisations did little to endear the lovers’ sheer ridiculousness to me. In such a phantasmic setting, the narrator’s final proclamations ought to have been romantic, but instead just encouraged an eye roll.

Without Colours: ⭐️

Almost as bland as the colourless, “uninterrupted horizons”. The abrupt leaps of language were also too convenient to make the ending poignant. Inventive, certainly, but too insubstantial to sustain my interest.

As Long as the Sun Lasts: ⭐️⭐️

Published three years after the original Cosmicomics, there are subtle inconsistencies in Qfwfq’s recollections of his millennia on Earth. The story was still sweet though – a 12-page expansion on the archetypal bickering old married couple.

“Without which the history of the universe would not have for him any name or memory or flavour, that eternal conjugal bickering: if ever it should one day come to an end, what a feeling of desolation, what emptiness!”

Implosion: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Published 44 years after the original Cosmicomics, Implosion is an abrupt departure from the preceding stories’ conversational tone. Here, Qfwfq is philosophical – no longer enchanting children (or children at heart) by the fire. But while Implosion may be less exuberant and experimental, the introspective prose struck a chord in my introverted soul.

“To explode or to implode, that is the question: whether ’tis nobler in the mind to expand one’s energies in space without restraint, or to crush them into a dense inner concentration and cherish them.”

My other Penguin Modern reviews:
Three Japanese Short Stories
Four Russian Short Stories
Of Dogs and Walls

4 thoughts on “The Distance of the Moon

  1. These selections sound very interesting, actually. I’ve been looking to expand my own reading preferences out to include some shorter collections/stories as I don’t have a lot of experience with them so I might check these out. ‘Implosion’ definitely sounds like something that I would be interested in reading, though the others seem somewhat less interesting. I’ll have to look into them further, though! Great reviews.

    I also just wanted to stop by and let you know that I recently tagged you in the ‘book blogger insider tag’ that I posted on my blog. I’m not yet well versed in tagging or mentioning users in posts, so I’m not sure if you were notified of the mention or not, but I just wanted to let you know in case you were unaware. Please feel free to check it out if you so wish and let me know what you think;
    No pressure, if you don’t want to do the tag, that’s fine, just thought I’d stop by and tell you 🙂 Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I know right? I hardly ever read novellas or short stories, so I couldn’t resist these gorgeous Penguin Moderns. I know other readers really enjoyed the first three stories though, so maybe you’ll like them more than I did 😊 I highly recommend Three Japanese Short Stories too! Do tell me what you think if you read them ☺️

      And ahh thank you! I did read your answers in that post but I didn’t expect to get tagged, so I skipped that part. I’ll get round to that ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Not a problem at all! I definitely will check out the stories when I have time to, and I’ll let you know what I think! It’ll be fun to read them even if they’re not quite my usual thing.

      Thank you!! No rush – I just wanted to let you know 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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