Writers who aim at effect by describing possible novels but never write them also impress me less these days. Borges, the arch-indexer of synopses, may have kicked this ball into play, but when Calvino’s character Silas Flannery compiles a list of possible novels he might write, I caught myself thinking, “Either write it or shut up!” In need of editorial hedge-trimmers Eco or Kundera or Perec or Rushdie may occasionally be, but they do at least complete the often hefty books they conceive.
“David Mitchell rereads Italo Calvino” at