Italian original: Marcovaldo ovvero Le stagioni in città
Finnish translation: Marcovaldo eli Vuodenajat kaupungissa
Publication year of the original: 1963
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1986
Finnish translator: Jorma Kapari
Format: print
Page count: 143

This short book has twenty short stories which have the same main character, a poor unskilled laborer Marcovaldo and his family. He makes so little money that they are constantly on the brink of disaster. They live a large Italian city, large enough that during a fog or when he gets of the bus on the wrong stop, Marcovaldo gets completely lost. He dreams of a simpler country life and tries constantly to get a little more money or food. Yet, when he gets his hands on a rabbit, he likes the poor animal and wants to keep it as a pet.

The stories start with a mundane place but are often exaggerated to the point where they become absurd fantasy. A couple of times, a story leaves the hapless protagonist in quite a dilemma and just ends there. For example, when Marcovaldo tries to find his way in a very thick fog, he ends up stumbling into an airplane, for the first time in his life, and it takes off. Not a word is said how he manages to get back. Indeed, at times he’s so miserable, that given the opportunity, he might not return.

Yet, not all of the stories aren’t depressing. Most of the stories are charming and often witty examinations of the harsh city life of poor people. How people want to get the best of any situation but often things end up just the same or even worse. A couple of times Marcovaldo and his family even manage to escape to the countryside which turns out to be pretty bizarre. However, there are a couple of stories which are down right crushing in the end.

The other Calvino book I’ve read is If on the Winters Night a Traveler and I really enjoyed it. This is witty little book but not as good.