Mr Palomar is a delightful eccentric whose chief activity is looking at things. He is seeking knowledge; 'it is only after you have come to know the surface of things that you can venture to seek what is underneath'. Whether contemplating a fine cheese, a hungry gecko, a woman sunbathing topless or a flight of migrant starlings, Mr Palomar's observations render the world afresh.
Here, Calvino, probably Italy's leading novelist before he died, focuses a probing eye on one man's attempt to name the parts of his universe, almost as though Mr Palomar were trying to define and explain his own existence. Where the Palomar telescope points out into space, Mr Palomar points in: walking the beach, visiting the zoo, strolling in his garden. Each brief chapter reads like an exploded haiku, with Mr Palomar reading an universe into the proverbial grain of sand
Beautifully nimble, solitary feats of imagination
Calvino represents a high point of literary evolution; his skill is immense but retains a simian agility. As ever, his gaze is crystal clear and his writing has the easy beauty of clarity.