His career plans did not work out. Without graduation Colonna’s only chance to survive is translating books for almost no money and ghost writing. When he is approached by a newspaper maker to take part in a fake publication, he cannot refuse due to his dire financial situation. The rest of the team is kept unknowing and thus they start working. With the time, Colonna gets to know them better and one evening, Braggadocio shares a story which could make the headlines of the big newspapers nationwide: Mussolini was never shot, it was just his double. A couple of days later he can provide evidence. Another couple of days later, Braggadocio is dead. Is there something about this story?
Umberto Eco, the master of conspiracy stories, of taking historical facts and turning them into thrilling novels, again sets out to play with reality. Yet, the plot seems to lack something, maybe this stems from the fact that it is rather short compared to his other novels and thus, the twists and links seem to be a bit superficial and not that convincingly presented as we have read them before.
What I really appreciated, however, were the scenes at the newspaper’s offices where they elaborate how to mock the readers, how to write articles which allude but do not really claim things, how to put words to create feelings and assumptions so that you cannot be hold responsible for what the readers believe. This is Eco’s strongest side, the play on words and the deduced meaning of what is put down.
All in all, one of Eco’s weaker novels but nevertheless interesting to read.