Tag Archives: umberto eco

Ship of Theseus by VM Straka aka S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

Hi readers.  Maybe you’ve been hearing about a book, S, by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst.

Jeanne tossed it aside last night with a frustrated sigh.  Which was okay by me.  When she brought S home from the library a couple of weeks ago I had a look, examined the acompanying envelope full of notes, whiz wheels, maps, you name it.  I thumbed through the pages of Ship of Theseus enough to think someone had abused a book unmercifully and unforgiveably.  And when she and another library lady claimed Ship of Theseus isn’t a real book I didn’t believe them.

A quick web search proved me right.  I immediately found a site where VM Straka, his life, and his other books were being discussed in depth.

Sheeze, it required another search after I’d proved myself an idiot to discover it’s all a fake.  A book, Ship of Theseus, as a centerpoint for two imaginary people studying the imaginary author and leaving notes in the margins to one another, following an imaginary mystery about the author and the book.

Well, hell.  I’m the guy who’s read Umberto Eco’s Focault’s Pendulum haf-dozen times and loved it.  I’m almost unique on the planet Earth in that regard.  And I’m the guy who chased the Lost Adams Diggings through half the archives and dusty old books and microfilms pertaining to the 19th Century.

I smiled secretly to myself, knowing I’ve read The Eyre Affair and that entire Tuesday Next series by Jasper Fforde and would read more in an eyeblink, if I couldn’t find a heartbeat to read them in.  And I’ve read all, I think, of the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels and loved them without exception.  Read Filip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series and loved it.  S wasn’t going to throw me any curves.

So I earmarked S in my mind as something I’d do when Jeanne finished it.  And last night when she declared it’s not her bag I smiled to myself and prepared to chase some devils and ghosts through the nights of the living dead I’ve noticed myself having of late.

This morning I picked it up, deciding to start by reading Ship of Theseus and ignoring the notes for a starter.  Tried, but I was continually distracted by the notes.  Because the notes in the margins are one hell of a lot more interesting and better written than the crappy novel they’re written in the margins of.

Probably Doug Doirst and JJ Abrams need to send their ideas off to Umberto Eco if they ever want to try this again.  Eco knows how to write a book.

Old Jules

Book Review – Baudolino by Umberto Eco

Don’t expect the earthquake power of The Name of the Rose in this one.  Don’t even expect the addictive confusion of Foucault’s Pendulum.  Umberto Eco never does the same job twice.  After he’s done it once it doesn’t need doing again.  Even though the reader-heart might hunger, grovel and beg.

So the monastic whodunit, the Dante-esque tour through a maze of mist and myth are replaced by the subtle, savage Eco wit, a God’s Little Acre fantasy, and inevitable, once again, awe.  Where the hell does a writer such as Eco come from?  Why can’t I create characters, plots, webs of credible craziness to challenge dreams and nightmares?

For instance, near the time of the 4th Crusade sack of Constantinople:

“[I] told the whole story to my father Galiaudo who said you big booby getting mixed up with sieges and the like one of these days you’ll get a pike up your ass that stuff is all for the lords and masters so let them stew in their own juice because we have the cows to worry about and we’re serious folk forget about Frederick, first he comes then he goes then he comes back and it adds up to fuckall.”

Yeah, we’re talking the 4th Crusade.  It ain’t enough Baudolino, a peasant lad, befriends Frederick Barbarossa, gets himself adopted and sent off to Paris for schooling.  Eco’s not going to be satisfied until he can rain it down knee-deep.  He sends Baudolino off searching for Prester John, where plots, characters and settings have some elbow room.

Gargantua and Pentagruel, by Umberto Eco, more-or-less.  If you can’t laugh until you cry reading Rabelais, you’d best stay-the-hell away from Baudolino.  But if, on the other hand, you can, if you’ve done it so many times you roar when you notice Gargantua on the bookshelf, you need Baudolino.   And quite possibly some professional help.

A damned good book.  A keeper.

Old Jules

Food, Books and Other town stuff

FOOD:  There’s an all-you-can-eat pizza joint where you get all the salad you want, a drink and a selection of all kinds of pizza slices as many times as you go back for them and as many kinds as you want for $5.00.  You wouldn’t believe how much salad and pizza a person can eat in an hour-or-so.

Only trouble is I always feel sort of bloated and sometimes have stomach cramps after I eat there.  Maybe it’s something in the food.

Thrift Store 25 cent books acquired:

A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller:  Good SF I read every 10 years or so.

Rebel – Bernard Cornwell – I like Cornwell fairly well but I haven’t read this one.  Civil War historical fiction

Quick Silver – Clark Howard – Never heard of the author.  Taking potluck on this one.

Double Jeopardy – Colin Forbes –  Another potluck.  Never heard of the author.

The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene – I might have read this one sometime.  But the only Graham Greene I’ve ever not liked was Brighton Rock, required reading in some English course.

The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco –  Time I read this one again. 

High Sorcery – Andre Norton – I might have read it 40 years ago.  Usually liked Andre Norton.

Fuzz – Ed McBain – Potluck.  Never heard of him.  Looks like an extortion, cops and robbers yarn.

The Third Man – Graham Greene – Once more before I die.

Hobbit and others – JRR Tolkien – Hell, for .25 why not one more time?

Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco – I dunno if I can do this one again.  I ain’t as young as I used to be.

The Blue Hammer – Ross Macdonald – I read all these 30 years ago, loved them but ran spang out.  Nice finding this one.

The Forge of God – Greg Bear – Never heard of him.  Appears to be SF.

Flashman at the Charge – George Mcdonald Frazer – Sheeze.  I love finding these.  I must have read the entire Flashman series a dozen times over the decades.  They never grow old.

Old Jules

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