NUMERO ZERO was the final Umberto Eco novel. If you know me at all, you know I have unholy love for Eco’s work, fiction and non-fiction. So I’m probably very biased here. It’s a short and sweet little book, like a tiny aftershock from FOUCAULT’S PENDULUM, set in the early 1990s and concerning a newspaper that doesn’t exist. Almost in the manner of Bigend’s “Node” in Gibson’s Blue Ant trilogy, an unseen actor is creating a sequence of dummy runs of a newspaper in order to practise causing effects upon the power structures of the day. Reading from our own vantage, we know it’s doomed, of course, and Eco has a lot of fun with layers of short-sightedness and some score-settling knifework upon the Italian newspaper industry as well as the obvious media mogul targets. There are joyful bursts of old Eco in here — a group of delirious pages about fake orders in Malta, big passages of mad wordgames — and then, joyfully, a big weird conspiracy plot, Eco’s love of genre in full effect.
I’m sure it will be racked as “minor” Eco, but even minor Eco is worthy of any thinking human’s attention. It was a pure pleasure to hear one more refrain from that great orchestra of a mind. I had a fine time with NUMERO ZERO.
NUMERO ZERO, Umberto Eco (link)