I have known about Umberto Eco since I read the Foucault Pendulum in French in 1995 (Le Pendule de Foucault). It was a mesmerizing book, that I needed to read with a dictionary. That book showed me that the whole Da Vinci code phenomenon was just a pale copy of Eco’s writing in his book published in 1988.
Eco’s books are not always easy to read. I have read Baudelino only partially, and now that I find that I want to read it again, I know that my copy is in Canada. I will probably just get myself a new copy in a few days. Unlike other writers, Eco’s books need to be digested and read slowly over a number of days and weeks. I usually can read a 500 page book in a day or two, if I have the time. I have been reading The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana for the past few weeks, sparingly when I travel on the train to Taipei.
It stars a sixtyish Italian rare book dealer called Yambo, who has a form of memory loss and can only recall every single book that he has read. Over the course of the novel, Yambo tries to rediscover himself through the books he has read and the music he has heard in his life.
Until now, it is a fabulous ride through books and ideas from an era past. With Fantomas and Rocambole (Buffalo Bill also makes an appearance), things couldn’t get stranger. I have just started the chapter on music and 78 records.
Slowly, Yambo seems to be able to recover parts of his memory, that he had lost. He spends time in his old family house reading his and his grandfather’s books.
The actual book is spectacular, because it incorporates a lot of book covers from that era, when Yambo was growing up.