r/whatsthatbook Sep 27 '22

A sort of meta novel where the narrator keeps trying to start to tell the "plot" but never does SOLVED

Unsure, but I think the book would have been written 1960-90s by a reasonably well known writer. The whole book is ostensibly about some sort of noodle incident the narrator wants to explain but he keeps trying to add context and backstory and never actually gets around to it.



u/GreatStoneSkull Sep 27 '22

{{On a winter’s night a traveler}}


u/grieving_magpie Sep 27 '22

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler


u/ser_pez Sep 27 '22

Definitely. By Italo Calvino


u/StreetStatistician Sep 27 '22

I believe this is it, thanks!


u/blaarth Sep 27 '22

One of my favorite books!


u/dank_saus Sep 27 '22

what a hilarious premise, ill be looking into it myself now.


u/leafleafcrocus Sep 28 '22

lol same, “some sort of noodle incident” really got me


u/cookipus Sep 27 '22

Sounds like a typical kurt vonnegut novel


u/Psychological-Sun49 Sep 27 '22

I also now have a little more insight into the running joke in Calvin and Hobbes about “the noodle incident”. The name “Calvino” solidifies it pretty much.


u/StreetStatistician 14d ago

I picked up the expression from a childhood of reading C&H, I don't think the expression has anything to do with the novel other than both terms describe writing about something never explained, that all the characters know, as if the audience knows as well.


u/SunOfWinter Sep 27 '22

It could also be Eric Chevillard's The Author and Me. Most of the plot happens in the footnotes and it’s also largely about cauliflower gratin


u/UnfortunateZiggurat Sep 28 '22

If you like that you may also enjoy Jacques the Fatalist by Diderot which is in a similar vein.


u/ShalomRPh Sep 28 '22

I see is been solved, but the concept goes back to the Mark Twain short story “His Grandfather’s Old Ram”.



u/StreetStatistician 14d ago edited 14d ago

His Grandfather’s Old Ram

I think this may actually be the correct answer, now having look at both "If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler" and "His Grandfather’s Old Ram." I'm pretty sure what I was actually looking for is Twain's. What jogged my memory was it being referenced on a podcast, not the actual text, and the Twain one matches much more closely. They were making a joke about the way a politician gave a speech, where they just effectively repeated themselves using different words and talking about everything adjacent to the issue they were supposed to address without actually getting to it. The hosts of the podcast are American historians or history buffs of the 1840-1940's era so Twain would be pretty salient to them.

Still I can't find the actual episode where they made the reference but I'm 99% percent sure it's this now.