I just read this book for a class and I'm ashamed that I hadn't read it sooner. I wonder a little if Calvino meant the book to say anything particular about male (or female) sexuality, or if the sort of consistent quality of hapless male narrators and confident, empowered, inscrutable female characters is more an artifact (/unintended consequence) related to how he sees the world. Did he think about that? He had to have; the story is underpinned by issues of desire and pleasure. But anyway, I don't feel pressured by the book to dig into its hidden secrets or latent attitudes, because it's mostly comfortable being itself at a closer level. A book about reading for pleasure turns out to be quite a joy to read.
"This is what I mean when I say I would like to swim against the stream of time: I would like to erase the consequences of certain events and restore an initial condition. But every moment of my life brings with it an accumulation of new facts, and each of these new facts bring with it consequences; so the more I seek to return to the zero moment from which I set out, the further I move away from it. . . ."