Gone fishing with Umberto Eco

Italian countryside image courtesy of chugbot, Morguefile.

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.



Filed under Writing

22 responses to “Gone fishing with Umberto Eco

  1. That book sounds awesome, I’m going to go add it to my wish list straight away! It does seem surprising, considering the serious nature of Eco’s fictional work (from what little I have read).

    And that is an incredible amount of books. I mean, I have several hundred, and they already take up a few bookcases. You’d need a private library the size of a large house, at the very least, to keep that many books.

  2. Sounds like I need to sign him up as a Book Booster. Wait, make him one of our poster models or we could sign him up for November’s calendar photo.

  3. Wow, 50,000 books. I would need a much larger house if my library was that big. I may have to look for this book. Sounds like some good reads.

  4. Thanks for posting this! His other books are sort of heavy, so it would be very interesting to see this other side of him. I’ll put it on my TBR list. And wow, 50,000 books…I’d love to take a trip to his house!

  5. I’m not familiar with Eco, but any individual with that many books has got to be an interesting person. (I wonder if he’s actually read them all…) In any case, that salmon story sounds intriguing.

  6. Thanks for the tips. I have not read any of his books…..but I will.

  7. I didn’t know that about him. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  8. I did read Foucault’s Pendulum…quite heavy indeed…This does sound like a fun novel and hard to imagine that he has a sense of humour!!

  9. I had no idea! I’ve been meaning to read some Umberto Eco, but only was aware of his novels. Now I have something else to look for…

  10. I did not know this. I remember reading The Name of the Rose years ago and enjoying it very much.

  11. Like a lot of people, I mostly associate Umberto Eco with heavy reading novels, his essays sound a refreshing change. I’m all for humour, the thought of having a giggle will often sell me on a written piece!


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