‘The Distance of the Moon’ by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver

It’s hard to pick a favourite from Cosmicomics. In this one, the narrator Qfwfq explores the scientific fact that the moon was once close to the earth. It bobbed just above the sea so that men rowing beneath it feared they might bang their heads if they stood up, and regularly visited it to collect the creamy, curdy milk that collected on its surface, which needed to be filtered due to the pollution of “fingernails and cartilage, bolts, sea horses, nuts and peduncles, shards of crockery, fishhooks, at times even a comb.” A mad, vivacious tale that fills me with joy every time I read it.

First published in Italian in 1965. First published in English by Jonathan Cape, 1968. Now available from Penguin Classics, 2010

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