The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.
Aha! I read something that isn’t mass-market! I win! What, exactly, I have won has yet to be determined. Extra snobbery points, perhaps? Redeemable for… reading glasses in the inevitable event that I destroy my vision with small print? Anyhoodle.
I love Umberto Eco, which is why I picked up this book. It’s serendipitous that I read this alongside the Bourne series as they both deal with amnesiac protagonists. However, this guy isn’t a spy. But he is a dealer in rare books, so I guess it evens out. Spies… rare books… they’re both pretty sexy. The premise of the novel is that Yambo can’t remember his life, but he can remember everything that he’s ever read. And so, seeking out the books of his past, he goes on a quest to retrieve his life, such as it were.
It’s a wonderful premise, and Eco has some writing throughout the book that just totally, totally blows me away. However, my completely irrelevant opinion is that it would be better as a novella. The beginning is fantastic. Parts of the ending are sheer brilliance. The middle on the other hand… really drags. The focus on the historical backdrop of the story is stretched out to the point of completely detracting from the story itself. It’s a very experimental sort of book, which is undoubtedly why it’s not one of Eco’s best-sellers. I also doubt that it could be published by a lesser author, which is a sort of backhanded compliment. “Oh hey, I love that wanky book that you wrote! Doubt you could have slipped that one under the radar had you not written some way less wanky stuff!”
I give it a solid “Not bad.”