A Tranquil Star

Author: Primo Levi

Translators: Ann Goldstein and Alessandra Bastagli

Type: Fiction, short stories

Published: 1988

I read it: January 2013

tranquil star

This collection is a bit uneven, which I suppose is to be expected. Sometimes the conceit seems more developed than the story itself, but it still makes for intriguing what-if topics in “Censorship in Bitinia,” “Knall,” or “The TV Fans from Delta Cep.” (You get a sense of Vonnegut in some of the structures.) There are some other standouts, such as a reflection on anthropology in “The Sorcerers” and a neat take on a chemistry accident in “The Molecule’s Defiance.” But really the only one not to miss here is the title selection, a heartbreakingly perfect rumination on the size of the universe, the size of us.

It’s a fine short book, although I think I got a lot more out of Other People’s Trades.

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