Some Effective Opening Paragraphs


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I finally got around to writing an Amazon review for The Prague Cemetery. I'm thinking of adding more to it, though.

Naturally, Five Stars

I have read each of Eco's prior novels repeatedly, and am quite fanatical about them. This latest one certainly ranks among the others, though not at the top, in my estimation. It may, however, be an ideal starting point for someone new to his work. It is his shortest, and I believe it is his "easiest" novel. The subject matter, while grim, has much contemporary relevance, so the reader should be readily drawn in. I read it nonstop as soon as it arrived, and have been through it maybe five times at this point; bear this in mind as I proceed to criticize it.

Various observations: the novel dramatizes the fabrication of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and therefore the storytelling is more constrained by facts than in any of Eco's earlier novels. Also the book is unique in Eco's corpus in that it is told mainly through the eyes of the villain, resulting in less humor than you'll find in any of the earlier books. I suspect that for all his study of this fraud and its perpetrators, Eco simply can't sympathize with and thereby fully inhabit his main character. So he sidesteps the problem through meta-narrative trickery, reusing both the doppelgänger motif from The Island of the Day Before, and the quest for lost memories Macguffin from The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. Readers of Foucault's Pendulum will already know the historical facts behind the Protocols, and the factual material presented there is only fleshed out a little further here, not substantially added to. The gastronomic details were rather odd, they seemed out of place, though the episode with Alexander Dumas making turtle soup was funny enough to redeem these sometimes off-putting digressions. Thematically, The Prague Cemetery is the flip side of Foucault's Pendulum; the earlier novel (Eco's best, IMO) deflates conspiracy theories, while this one might scare you into hiding under your bed.

One last point, the audiobook version is excellent, George Guidall is the perfect reader in this material. However, the book has illustrations, so I recommend that my fellow fanatics get both.

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I think I'll borrow Peikoff's method when contemplating whether or not to read his daughter's novel.

Oops, it looks as though it's going to have quotes from other authors. Maybe I'll just save my money and wait for some future revenge/hate fantasies from that amateurish Bosh Fausten guy.

Oh! Jonathan! the pain of facing reality is no easier for the Objectivish than it is for any other human.

I haven't yet read the back blurb of Kira Peikoff's first novel, but I note that on the front cover of the image supplied to Amazon, there is this bit of log-rolling: "A tight and suspenseful thriller ... a remarkable debut!" The commendation comes from, um'Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Fragile."

Get thee to to hear a 5 minute sample!

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