Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

November 13, 1994|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH A SALMON & Other Essays by Umberto Eco (Harcourt Brace: $18.95; 248 pp.) He's not the funniest man in the world, but with this collection of pieces, written between 1959 and 1961 for the Italian literary magazine Il Verri, Eco shows us his lighter side and the side that muses under deadline pressure. His sense of humor does not, in any way, resemble P. J. O'Rourke's or Dave Barry's or even Calvin Trillin's. It is more the bemused, frustrated, sarcastic but tolerant muttering of a world-weary intellectual living in a non-functioning universe. The Andy Rooney of academia. Eco vs. the Italian equivalent of the DMV, Eco vs. modern air travel ("A simple journey by air a few years ago . . . cost me in the end two Brooks Brothers neckties, two Burberry shirts, two pairs of Bardelli slacks, a tweed jacket bought in Bond Street, and a Krizia waistcoat"). Eco vs. the cellular phone ("very Rockefellerian"). Eco vs. the computer, Eco vs. American trains ("The train, in America, is not a choice. It is a punishment for, having neglected to read Weber on the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, making the mistake of remaining poor"). "All through my early years," he writes, "I believed that, by some strange chance, all the people I met were stupid." Hey! Umberto! How's the weather up there?

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|