weeks ago. This is not a book that everyone will enjoy because there is no real
action and the “plot” is complicated and somewhat obscure, if this book can
even be said to have a plot. We have a publisher who has been asked to create a
mock newspaper for reasons which are not revealed. We have a staff that is hired
to produce these mock-ups and the staff does not realize that these newspapers
are not destined for publication.
these reporters try to “trump” up stories. In fact they are told that they
should pick old stories which have never been resolved and then write articles
that “predict” a juicy resolution. One of the reasons that this is difficult
for most Americans to follow, or to want to follow, is that these are Italian
newspapers but he has never found a successful niche. He considers himself a
loser. “Losers, like autodidacts, always know much more than winners. If you
want to win, you need to know just one thing and not to waste your time on
anything else: the pleasures of erudition are reserved for losers. The more a
person knows, the more things have gone wrong.”
acquaintance, Simei, offers him a story line for a great book that he can one
day write, a book that will appear under Simei’s name, a book called Domani
(yesterday, in Italian) he also offers him the job of running the newspaper
that will never be published. The issues will all begin with a Numero Zero.
and Colonna finds that someone has been in his apartment while he was sleeping.
He is afraid to leave his building. Why the paranoia? Does the danger have any
connection to the conspiracy stories that one of his colleagues at this
mysterious newspaper, Braggadocio, has been sharing with him, the ones about
fascist groups that may still lurk in the shadows and about the possibility
that Mussolini did not die as history suggests but lived out his life in
Argentina? Or perhaps it was another story about the fake Orders of Malta
popping up around the world, very secretly of course.
not the sole property of the Italian media. It is a very cynical view of media
and that aspect probably does not surprise most of us. But how much of what we
think of as news may be invented for the reader’s taste for sensationalism, or
extorted by the state with threats, or distorted by successful subterfuge is
difficult for readers of news, and in fact even writers of news to judge. Is
there any such thing as a free press? Are powerful people always covering up
for the human flaws that their power gives them the freedom to indulge?
character Colonna, who began and ended the book afraid for his life after the murder
of Braggadocio, the originator of all the conspiracy theories? Were they
conspiracy theories or did Braggadocio have a source providing real news? Who
killed Braggadocio and why? Now perhaps Umberto Eco had a terminal illness and
knew that he would die soon and created a novel that would turn his demise into
the kind of cultural mystery he liked to write. Or was Umberto Eco murdered for
his stand against Fascism? We will probably never know. Doesn’t matter, Umberto
Eco, on purpose or by accident, leaves us with a novel that helps him remain an
amazing author right to the very end and which leaves a reader with perhaps
just one word – freaky.