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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanaby Umberto Eco
"The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is impressive in the sheer breadth of knowledge intertwined to form a national consciousness, and the tale it tells is engaging, but it could have had even more resonance if its protagonist had been less self-absorbed. To a certain degree, his life story shares the same shortcoming that Yambo diagnoses in himself: 'I don't have feelings, I only have memorable sayings.'" Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer who lives in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory — he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin. There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and the life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphic novel. Yambo struggles through the frames to capture one simple, innocent image: that of his first love.
A fascinating, abundant new novel-wide-ranging, nostalgic, funny, full of heart — from the incomparable Eco.
"When aging Italian book-dealer Yambo, hero of this engaging if somewhat bloodless novel of ideas, regains consciousness after a mysterious coma, he suffers a peculiar form of amnesia. His 'public' memory of languages, everyday routines, history and literature remains intact, but his autobiographical memory of personal experiences — of his family, lovers, childhood, even his name — is gone. He can spout literary and cultural allusions on any topic, citing everything from Moby-Dick to Star Trek, but complains, 'I don't have feelings, I only have memorable sayings.' To recover his past, he repairs to his boyhood home to peruse a cache of memorabilia amassed in his youth during Mussolini's reign and WWII, consisting of comic books, schoolbooks, Fascist propaganda, popular music, romantic novels and his own poetry about an unattainable high school beauty. The setup allows semiotician and novelist Eco (The Name of the Rose, etc.) to indulge his passion for pulp materials by reproducing such objects as movie posters, song lyrics and a graphic novella rendering the Book of Revelation as a Flash Gordon melodrama, with intriguing asides on cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind thrown in. The result has a somewhat academic feel, but it's an absorbing exploration of how that most fundamental master-narrative, our memory, is pieced together from a bricolage of pop culture." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[C]ompelling storytelling and greatly sympathetic characters..." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Having lost all his memories except for every book and poem he has ever read, rare-books dealer Yambro flees to the old family home to reconstruct his life — which spools by here in graphic-novel format." Library Journal
"A head-spinning tour through the corridors of history and popular culture, and one of this sly entertainer's liveliest yet." Kirkus Reviews
To recall his memories, Yambo withdraws to the family home where he searches old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and diaries to relive the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, and Fred Astaire.
About the Author
Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the bestselling author of numerous novels and essays. He lives in Milan.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: THE INCIDENT
1. The Cruelest Month 3
2. The Murmur of Mulberry Leaves 28
3. Someone May Pluck Your Flower 45
4. Alone through City Streets I Go 64
PART TWO: PAPER MEMORY
PART THREE: OI NO?TOI
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