If on a winter's night a traveler - Italo Calvino I arrived at the library with my two books in hand. As I plunked them down on the check-in counter, a thin matronly woman approached.

"Would you like to check these books in?"

"Yes I would but I would also like to..."

"Oh, I see you read If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino."

"Yes I did. Have you read it too?"

"On starting the first few pages, you were put off by what appears to be a artistic gimmick."

"Why yes a little. but..."

"you soon realized that the author was trying to involve you in his dadaist alternate reality by connecting to the only reality the author and reader have in common. The world of words and symbolism."

"Well, I'm not sure I saw it that way. But now that you mention it..."

"The book caused you to not only suspend disbelief but examine your own concepts of what is means to immerse yourself in literature"

"Actually I just want to check these books in..."

"It is unlike anything you have ever read before. Even unlike anything Calvino has written before. But he tells you that in the first three pages. For the unique part of the novel is that Calvino holds nothing back about the mechanics of his literary mind."

"OK, this is getting a little weird."

"It makes you wonder. Is there any reality except for that which we perceive through our imagination?"

"This is getting a lot weird. Would you please.."

"How do you know that we are not actually in a novel this very moment?"

"OK, Stop that"

"Or maybe we are in a review of a novel"


"Or a figment of someone's web page"


I grabbed a pen off the counter, leaped up, and rammed the pen through her forehead, stabbing her several times. None of the other people seemed to notice except an old man busy in his reading who pointed to the "Quiet" sign and made a hushing sound. After making sure she was quite dead I dragged her into the Mystery section which I felt was as good as any place to leave a corpse. I had just returned to the counter when another woman came out from the back.

"That's funny. I was sure Mrs. Peachtree was manning the desk. Well, never mind. How can I help you?"

"I would like to return these two books"

"Why of course. Did you want to renew your loan on either book?"

"If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, no. But on Crime and Punishment, yes."