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Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana

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9780436205897: Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana
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Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer who lives in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory-he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin.There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and the life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphic novel. Yambo struggles through the frames to capture one simple, innocent image: that of his first love.

A fascinating, abundant new novel-wide-ranging, nostalgic, funny, full of heart-from the incomparable Eco.

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The premise of Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, may strike some readers as laughably unpromising, and others as breathtakingly rich. A sixty-ish Milanese antiquarian bookseller nicknamed Yambo suffers a stroke and loses his memory of everything but the words he has read: poems, scenes from novels, miscellaneous quotations. His wife Paola fills in the bare essentials of his family history, but in order to trigger original memories, Yambo retreats alone to his ancestral home at Solara, a large country house with an improbably intact collection of family papers, books, gramophone records, and photographs. The house is a museum of Yambo's childhood, conventiently empty of people, except of course for one old family servant with a long memory--an apt metaphor for the mind. Yambo submerges himself in these artifacts, rereading almost everything he read as a school boy, blazing a meandering, sometimes misguided, often enchanting trail of words. Flares of recognition do come, like "mysterious flames," but these only signal that Yambo remembers something; they do not return that memory to him. It is like being handed a wrapped package, the contents of which he can only guess.

Within the limitations of Yambo's handicap and quest, Eco creates wondrous variety, wringing surprise and delight from such shamelessly hackneyed plot twists as the discovery of a hidden room. Illustrated with the cartoons, sheet music covers, and book jackets that Yambo uncovers in his search, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana can be read as a love letter to literature, a layered excavation of an Italian boyhood of the 1940s, and a sly meditation on human consciousness. Both playful and reverent, it stands with The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before as among Eco's most successful novels. --Regina Marler

From the Back Cover:
"Brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated . . . As we accompany Yambo on his trail of self-discovery, we see Umberto Eco, one of the great minds of our era, reveal a little of his heart." --Chicago Sun-Times
"Eco . . . leaves the reader charmed . . . [His] latest feat of imagination burns with humane intelligence." --Philadelphia Inquirer
 
What if you woke up tomorrow and remembered nothing of your life? The faces of your spouse and children are strange, and the outlines of your childhood are only a blur. This is the crisis that Yambo, an Italian bookseller, faces when he regains consciousness after suffering a stroke. He is shocked to find, however, that he can remember every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, and a wealth of literary quotations.
    Desperate to retrieve his past, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and life races before him in a series of images, as Yambo struggles to capture the most elusive one—that of his first love.
"Eco continues to write some of the most timeless and consistently engaging fiction out there." --Miami Herald

 Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the bestselling author of numerous novels and essays. He lives in Milan. Translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock

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