Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna, Umberto Eco

“And what’s your name?”
“Wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue.”
That’s how it all began.
I felt as if I had awoken from a long sleep, and yet I was still suspended in a milky gray.

I’ve been wanting to read Umberto Eco for a while, and though the book I had in mind was The Name of the Rose, I couldn’t find it in any of the bookstores I looked in, so I picked this one up.

Umberto Eco is definitely a crazy Italian writer. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna is about Yambo, an Italian bookseller who wakes up after a stroke. He can’t remember anything about his personal life: his wife, his children, or his own childhood. But oddly enough, he can remember every book he’s every read, every bit of poetry, and a huge amount of literary quotations.

I thought that this was definitely a good idea for a plot. Unusually, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna (I’ll call it The Mysterious Flame from now on), has color illustrations. You see, in an effort to remember some of his past, Yambo goes to an old country house and searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, photos, records, and diaries. And there are many illustrations of these things. I’m not sure if the pictures were strictly necessary; they didn’t seem to add that much to the book, but they were interesting to look at.

In addition to his personal early life, Yambo sees the figures of that period: Mussolini, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire.

It was quite interesting because Yambo remembers so many literary things, but if he had a personal connection to it, he doesn’t remember it. As he searches through the objects, however, he begins to have some hazy recollections and his memories “run wild, and life races before him in a series of images…” After reading this one, I’m definitely looking forward to The Name of the Rose.

Read The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna:
  • if you like Umberto Eco
  • if you like crazy novels
  • if you like books about memory
  • if you like Italian fiction
  • if you are interested in the 30s, 40s, and 50s
449 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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