My review of Umberto Eco’s Numero Zero ran today in the Boston Globe.
As a huge Eco fan, I was a little disappointed by this book. It’s so short! And its scope is so narrow. I’m used to sprawling, historical epics that delve deep into arcane and obscure minutiae. That’s what I read Umberto Eco for. Numero Zero is a very concise story about a group of journalists who end up stumbling upon a supposed conspiracy centered around Mussolini; but that aspect of the story never really comes together. It feels more like Eco had a cute theory about Mussolini’s death and how it tied into (the very real conspiracy) Operation Gladio and decided to built a novella around it. It’s not very smoothly integrated into the story.
Much more interesting is the book’s initial focus, the creation and development of a fake newspaper, Domani, whose goal is to essentially blackmail Italy’s powerful movers-and-shakers into allowing the paper’s owner into the “inner sanctum” of Italian society.