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How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays (Harvest Book) 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156001250
ISBN-10: 015600125X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this collection of parodies, satires and whimsical mini-essays written over the last 30 years, Italian novelist/critic Eco (The Name of the Rose) takes readers on a delightful romp through the absurdities of modern life. A curmudgeonly cosmospolite, he waxes irate at his pet peeves, which include American trains, taxi drivers in New York City and Paris, soccer fans and cellular phones. He mockingly deconstructs Western movies, art catalogues, library regulations and, with tongue in cheek, proffers advice on how to take intelligent vacations and how to become a Knight of Malta. Eco parodies science fiction in a tale of intergalactic sex and espionage, and spoofs detective fiction in an account of "the perfect crime." Serious issues that emerge from the antics include how the mass media confuses reality and fiction, and how our "consumer civilization" turns adults into children whose endless needs require constant gratification. First serial to Esquire.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Written mostly between 1975 and 1991, these how-to miniessays (how to eat in flight, how to go through customs, how to deal with the taxi driver) are in the same vein as Misreadings (LJ 5/1/93). Generally, they are shorter, like monologs by a somewhat amusing and not too garrulous conversationalist. The persona presumes to be self-deprecating but is actually fatuous, pleased to be recognized on the street by television viewers and happily aware that readers will not have had all his opportunities for travel, fame, and affluence. On the whole, this persona is rather snide vis-a-vis officialdom, the service occupations, and the masses. The closest counterpart in U.S. journalism is Calvin Trilling, but this is a Trilling without any good nature or affection. As translator, Weaver has made some inspired word choices. For literary collections.
Marilyn Gaddis Rose, SUNY-Binghamton
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015600125X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156001250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this collection of humourous essays, Umberto Eco exemplifies my most favourite literary character: the lovable curmudgeon. Only he happens to be a curmudgeon blessed with world class wit, an encyclopedic knowledge of history and art and literature, and the reputation as the world's leading expert on semiotics. I enjoy his writing best when he's not wielding all of those swords at once. During those pieces the humour gets tangled up in the academia, causing migraine headaches for his less nimble-minded audience (an example of this is the long piece 'Stars and Stripes', which in the interest of full disclosure I'll admit to not understanding).
The better pieces are quick, to the point, and almost existential. They are also very accessible. 'On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1' takes that wickedly mischievous proposition to its logical conclusion, and skewers the pomposity of academics who feel equipped to offer a truthful representation of the world. Eco himself knowingly gets caught in that crossfire, much to his own delight. My favourite piece is entitled 'How Not to Use the Cellular Phone'. In it, he rationally categorizes cell phone users (ranging from those so important they need to be on-call 24 hours a day, to those living lives so lame they must constantly be in contact with people who might be doing something interesting). Upon completion, I felt justified in my desire to never own one of those horrendous little gadgets.
Once again, a funny little book that makes you look at the world your living in just a bit differently. What more can you ask?
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Format: Paperback
I knew Umberto Eco from his previous books like Foucault's Pendulum and The Name of the Rose. Both of them are very documented and serious writings and I have to admit I was a bit reserved at the idea of Umberto Eco writing humorous essays.
But it was enough for me to read only the first story (How to Travel with a Salmon) and I decided I had to read the whole book.
This is the book that will give you a nice feeling, sometimes will make you even laugh out loud, as it is written with a lot of wit and sense of humour.
It is suitable for someone who wants a light reading and intelligent at the same time.
I was pleasantly surprised to meet the playful side of Mr. Eco which resulted in light satires at the address of some social institutions, bureaucracy and habits that people have. It is a delightful reading that I bet, you don't want to miss.
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Format: Paperback
In this hysterical collection of essays, Umberto tackles everything from the Italian driver-licensing bureau to the cosmic army of the future--one that doesn't seem to be able to do anything really useful save dispatching astrograms to each other. Eco is delightful, mocking at times, right on point throughout. Whether you want to know the truth about talk-show hosts, how to deal with soccar fans, taxi-drivers and, well, salmon, how to buy useless gadgets, or simply want to hear the secret rules concerning library organization (no bathrooms), how to compile toilet-paper inventories, you'll love this book. The book is enjoyable throughout with its often bizarrely funny juxtapostition of the mundane and the learned.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bottom Line First: How to Travel with a Salmon is not a good introduction to Umberto Eco. It is a relaxing, mostly good humored collection for his fans. Some of these pieces are dated to the point of being quaint others have to limited audiences. This is the work of a man capable of very sophisticated and complex work. Here he is having some fun. It is best read in that same frame of mind.
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Having been entangled and over my intellectual head in some of Umberto Eco's more serious essays, I find his How to Travel with a Salmon to be a pleasant read.

In this post 9/11 sensitive to security issues world his title essay about the problems of getting a fish onto an airplane, is almost quaint. I had some of the same feelings reading about his bureaucratic snarls in attempting to replace a stolen driver's licenses. Going back to his problems with the salmon, blaming his hotel bill on staff with poor language skills might have been funny before the issue of immigration into Europe became politicized. Now those same hotels tend to count any removal of the contents of an "honor bar" as the same as consumption of those contents. So his intention to preserve his salmon and the staff's lack of lingua franca aside, he would still be out of pocket for refilling the in room ice box.

His essays about making a 1:1 map of a country is a lovely skewering of academia and "logical" argument, but not as much fun as his pastiche of academese about the 3 owls poem. I do not have enough background to pick up all the barbs at the various writers mentioned but the overall effect is a humorous shot across the bow of a class of desperately pretentious, trivial papers.
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Format: Paperback
In this collection of wonderfully sardonic essays Umberto Eco demonstrates the qualities that have made his a great novelist: attention to detail, to people, and his erudition. And to the delight of many-he displays yet another (perhaps unexpected) quality: a wicked yet welcoming wit.

For these essays about many different journeys are welcoming because they are so recognizable. There is the journey (without) a watch; the journey of a child eating ice cream; the (very literal) airplane journey with attendant gadget advertising; the journeys of modern communication via a fax machine-and many, many more.

These essays drew me into an incredible world, made me laugh and grimace at the same time. But above all, they forced me to recognize my world--and myself.

This is a good book to take with you on a journey-no matter where you are headed. I recommend it.
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