I first read this book in university. It wasn't assigned to me, but I read it on the side of a bunch of theoretical reading I was doing for classes. At the time, I was preoccupied with the feeling that I had to learn all the correct ways to do things: the correct ways to write text, to make things in the world, to look at the world. The impossible cities imagined and plainly described by Calvino in this book exploded that rigid and very academic thinking - the claustrophobic, ever-narrowing search for more correct paths - with a gleeful epiphany of 'why not?' Why not a place that is packed with earth instead of air? Why not a city of dreams? Why not parallel worlds of the living and the dead. I was deeply impacted by Calvino's incredible feat of imagination, which seemed to neither search for supreme correctness, nor reject forms; rather, he endlessly multiplies possibilities. It was the first time it had occurred to me that there really are no rules.


Tommy Noonan