Umberto Eco – The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana


I can’t remember whether this Umberto Eco book is my first one or have I read something else, besides “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana” of his. Either way, the writing style is great, smooth even for such slightly chaotic book with things being thought-at-us while living in one time, but the things that are told being from a whole different time.

An elderly man when he was but a kid, demanded to be called Yambo, and so now, in his 60′, he’s still being called that. He just woke up in the hospital, after some sort of an accident, and while he can remember how to brush his teeth, he cannot remember his wife, or the very fact of the marriage. I, sadly, cannot remember the technical name for this type of amnesia, but either way, the demand is for him to remember. People around him inform him of things, and he quotes all the things he once read. Being an antique book collector and seller – you might tell, he read enough for reader to get pages and pages of stories about books he once read, and quotes from all of them. It would be all great and good, but pardon me saying, I’d like to read a book with a story, not a book about a book. Eventually, when his wife notices this fact, fact of his memory being in the pages, she sends him off to his childhood home, where his school stuff should still gather dust on them. He does and at last we get a scene or two that keeps you awake, reading.

Alas, the more he digs, the more worthless stories we get. Soon we’re told that his grandfather collected old cigarette boxes, old boxes of tea’s or whatever else there was, and he tells us about those things in detail. Then we get a picture of that box. Great are those that come after all of this, when he finally starts making something out in his head, of his childhood, of guerilla war that was going on, of his school years and first love that never died.

All well and good, but when we get through him telling us about the collectables, about the comic book and regular books, and when we finally get to the good part, soon we’re again broken with a very tragic love story that never even truly happened, and that eventually makes a reader, or at least me, think that it was better to forget some things. Worst is, that it is here where the story ends. And it ends with one fat question mark and several pages of sources used, for, trust me when I say so, there’s a ton of songs, books, comic books and such, quoted relentlessly. It formed bigger part of the book and in the end I feel like I got no story to keep. The story that was there – was too small, and too abrupt, too painful for keeping.

While I did not like this book, I did like the writing style and I will give the author another chance, gladly so too. I’ll give this one 2 out of 5, with trust that out there there’s a smarter person, more intelligent than I’d be, who will appreciate whatever this story is or has to offer.

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