Book Review: Umberto Eco’s “The Infinity of Lists”

Review by Levi Foster
Rizzoli
Hardcover, 408 Pages
November 2009

Umberto Eco is terrifyingly erudite, as anyone who has read his novels will attest: the extravagant wealth of information in his novels, on medieval scholarship, or the Kabbalah, or any of a dozen other subjects, is staggering. And anyone who has read, for example, the six-page-long description of the main door of the church of the abbey in The Name of the Rose will confirm that Eco has a penchant—perhaps even a passion—for the obsessively detailed catalogue. His most recent novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, could with justice be described as an amnesic narrator rattling down through a catalogue of pre-World War II Italian comic books, popular songs, magazines, newspapers, and other relics of his forgotten childhood.

So Eco’s latest book, The Infinity of Lists, a work of non-fiction about lists in literature and art from Homer to Dalí, is at the very least in character. Continue reading

Advertisements

Fiction: “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You”

I sent my guinea pigs ahead of me with the friend of a friend. He was going to Portland and came to pick them up on Friday afternoon in a corroded green station wagon that was missing a fender. There was barely enough room in the trunk, on account of the mountains of old books, so we had to move half of them to the front seat. We wedged the cage between stacks of Kerouac and Faulkner because I wanted them to feel at home. “The next time we see each other,” I whispered to them before I shut the trunk, “you can tell me all about romanticism.” Continue reading