Most blog readers here are probably familiar with the novels that Umberto Eco has written, such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. But did you also know that he is a hilarious essayist?
I refer to his book, How To Travel With A Salmon And Other Essays. In the first essay, Eco discusses his battle to keep a salmon fresh in a hotel room refrigerator emptied of its liquor while the hotel staff keeps removing the fish and replacing it with new liquor. I won’t say who won that battle, though. (Hey, it’s no good angling for answers from me. I don’t like to carp, but some mysteries should be preserved.)
Other funny essays include “How To Replace A Driver’s License” (after his driver’s license went missing in Holland), “How To Eat In Flight” (makes you rethink airline meals and their effect on clothing) and “How To Follow Instructions” (especially when they confuse you). There’s also my personal favorite, “How To Play Indians,” which parodies the clichéd ways that Native Americans are depicted in Western movies. Eco’s essays tackle multiple topics such as soccer fans, bad coffee, art critics and other aspects of modern life.
I’ve read The Name of The Rose (not bad), but I was pleased to take the bait and read this book when I found it on the library shelf. It shows a lighter side of Umberto Eco. The guy’s really funny, and I’ll bet he and his family would make great dinner companions with lots of humorous anecdotes to tell as we dined (and I’ll even bring the salmon).
Besides, anybody who personally owns over 50,000 books (according to Wikipedia) is okay by my standards. Where does he put them all, I wonder? We’re talking serious bookcases here. My mind boggles.