Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Authors > Umberto Eco

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I honestly do NOT understand what everyone is raving about when it comes to this guy. I read one book. When I finished it I had a look on my face that my husband summarized as "what the hell did I just read?!" Thinking I'd missed something, I tried another book of his. Still don't get it. Still think there are far better authors who don't try to condescend to the reader by parading their prolific knowledge of multiple topics across the page. And everyone seems so excited to kiss his balloon knot. I DON'T GET IT.


message 2: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) Which book did you read? I read and loved The Name of the Rose, but I couldn't even come close to wrapping my brain around Foucault's Pendulum--just couldn't get through more than a few chapters.

I suspect that there's a two-fold problem. First, Eco is very dense. He includes a lot of esoteric details that are hard to keep track of. Second, we only get to read him in translation. Reading a translation is not the same as reading in the original language as so much depends on the skill of the translator.

If you haven't read The Name of the Rose, give that one a shot. It's really a terrific book.


message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
Julie, was it The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana? I was so into that book about 90% of the way through, even though it was just sort of a catalog of media from his childhood -- the stories were good and the images are gorgeous -- but then it ended so abruptly and without any sense of completion and I was just baffled. I'm afraid to read another Eco bc it was so disappointing (though I may eventually try The Name of the Rose).


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

The first one I read was The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana and the second one I read was The Name of the Rose. Maybe it's because I'm not religious, but the Name of the Rose would have been a lot better without having to wade through all that church history of the fighting sects...or at least some kind of historical crib-sheet at the front so you could keep all the damn information straight.

Basically, I just don't understand why everyone thinks he's the greatest thing since Shakespeare. I'm not saying his books are bad, I just really don't get what all the fuss is about.


message 5: by nogaboga (new)

nogaboga The Mysterious Flame made me want to scream. The beginning was so good, and then the cataloging caught me off-guard. I gave it 30 pages or so until it hit me - I am reading a detailed list of "items found in my attic" by a guy who grew up in a foreign country 60 years ago. And it's boring as hell.

So, yes, the entire first part of the book is lovely. But the rest, oh, the rest...




message 6: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) Julie wrote: "The first one I read was The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana and the second one I read was The Name of the Rose. Maybe it's because I'm not religious, but the Name of the Rose would have been a lo..."

I adore The Name of the Rose and I liked Foucault's Pendulum but I think it's more because of the stories and the characters in them. I would have liked to meet Brother William. I tried Baudino and hated it and I haven't really been motivated to read anything else of Eco's.

Hmmm...I see a pattern emerging here since I don't like any of the Italian authors I've tried: Levi, Calvino, Gatta.

And regarding Rose, it does make for a far more interesting book if you do have a little knowledge about 14th century Church politics; otherwise, I can see why someone would find it tedious.


message 7: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 1 comments OH MY GOD THANK YOU. I thought I was the only one!

I picked up The Island of the Day Before knowing nothing about him or the book but what I read from the back cover. And it sounded amazing! Guy gets shipwrecked on a ship, right at the earth's 'seam' so the island he can see is, in a sense, a day behind him.

He took half the book to say what he could have said in 3 chapters. At that point I gave up. It was like wading through water that was waist high. I might pick it up again - I WANT to like it. But it will probably just gather dust on my bookshelf...


message 8: by Missclimpson (new)

Missclimpson | 3 comments I love the Name of the Rose, couldn't get into Foucoult's Pendulum, and love his nonfiction pieces. His story of the salmon in the hotel room is wonderful.


message 9: by Starling (new)

Starling BORING!!! Why bother?


message 10: by George (new)

George Mead | 23 comments Life is so short. Some many incredible works to read. I tried to red NOTR several years ago, and then tried again. Makes Dostoevsky look like pulp fiction.


Abigail (42stitches) | 29 comments I read Queen Loana and Pendulum on CD. And I thought they were wildly funny. Especially because Loana was voiced by George Guidall. And listening to him is amazing. I started The Name of the Rose, but got distracted and haven't gone back to to it yet.


message 12: by Ketutar (new)

Ketutar Jensen | 40 comments Julie wrote: "...all that church history of the fighting sects...all the damn information... "

THIS is why I love Umberto Eco. His writing is very intense, full packed of details and information, list, descriptions, quotes... You don't need to keep all this information straight, just let it flow over you, let yourself be taken by the flood... It is a very sensual journey... not to be understood, but to be experienced.

He is very Italian, and I suppose you are not very fond of Italian authors any way - or Spanish, Portuguese or Latin American - all these authors have this fascinating, sensual way of writing, after all, they were the creators of magical reality, and Catholicism with all its saints, demons and miracles is very strong in this area of the world.

I suppose if you could get an abridged version of his STORIES, you would be able to appreciate it. My husband hates Shakespeare's and Homer's writing, but loves the stories ;-) After all, Shakespeare isn't great because people like blank verse and Elizabethan language :-D


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 14 comments I'm absolutely on the same side as Ketutar. I've only read NotR and Foucault's Pendulum (of his novels, I used some of his texts at uni), but they are both right up at the top of my list. I've four more on my TBR shelf.

I think he is an author who shows that fiction can be learned, experimental, thrilling and fun, all at the same time. I don't think you "have to know" about church politics or whatever, because he creates such a well-imagined world.


message 14: by Peridot (new)

Peridot | 16 comments I've only read Foucault's Pendulum. It was by far the most challenging book that I've ever read. That said, it was worth the struggle. There were times when Eco would veer off on some tangent or another, but the story itself was fantastic. I started Name of the Rose but was distracted by a shiny object (or a shiny book) and put it down. I still have it though and full intend to read it someday. I do think that part of the problem with his books is the translation. But didn't he also write a book about translating books?


message 15: by Doreen (new)

Doreen (dvaleris) | 2 comments I'm with you, Julie. I read the NotR and went, "Really? Well, *that* was over-rated!" I love Italo Calvino, so I don't think it has anything to do with Italian authors (If On A Winter's Night etc. is one of my all-time favorite books.) I just don't appreciate having a mess of nouns spouted at me in exotic conjunctions and then being told to appreciate said list as "art." I read novels for story, so shoot me. NotR was, for me, a very poorly executed story.


message 16: by Gail (new)

Gail --->15: I'm not sure, Doreen, if you read novels for story, how you liked "If on a Winter's Night", since every plotline in that book was cut off and what at first seemed to be a kind of quirky book with lots of plots turned into a musing on the relationship between readers and the books they read. Which isn't to say I didn't like it; I did. But I wouldn't call it a book with a coherent plot or story line. NotR, on the other hand, has, admittedly buried under a lot of extraneous matter, quite an intriguing plotline.

Just one woman's opinion.


message 17: by Doreen (new)

Doreen (dvaleris) | 2 comments @ Gail: I thought IoaWNaT was a very layered metaphor for what Calvino was trying to do. He wasn't quite as explicit in his finishing (if you will,) as Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which I also loved, but I didn't feel let down by the plot or condescended to at any point. Both of which I felt while reading NotR.


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