Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review: The Prague Cemetery

OK, the one you've been waiting for: the worst book I ever read. DO NOT PURCHASE THIS BOOK; YOU WILL HATE YOURSELF

Pub date: 11/8/11
Author: Umberto Eco
Title: The Prague Cemetery
Description: Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document?

Eco takes his readers on an unforgettable journey through the underbelly of world-shattering events. Eco at his most exciting, a book immediately hailed as his masterpiece. (Publisher description)

Review source: Netgalley

I hated this book. Hated it. Let me say up front that I absolutely hated it.
Now that that’s off my chest, I’ll try to do a decent review. I read the blurb above, and it sounds like the kind of book I normally go for, with mysteries and conspiracies and intricate plot twists and revelations. Don’t let this fool you. Maybe I’m doing a spoiler here, but I don’t think so. There is one central character who has absolutely no redeeming qualities. His life is built around hatred, most especially hatred of Jews, and the book explores that hatred in all its dimensions. He is surrounded by other despicable people. They plot against one another. The reader never cares about any of them, so their ultimate fates are of no interest. There is plenty of hatred and invective spewed around for everyone: Jews, first and foremost, but also Freemasons, priests, especially Jesuits, communists, and women. The book is foul to the point where one almost feels dirty to continue reading it; I can’t imagine anyone writing it without either having the pustulence within himself gushing out, or else being permanently tainted by creating these thoughts. The blurb asks “what if one man were behind all of this?” but the book basically answers “so what?” Not nearly as intriguing as the question might suggest.

I don’t know who will hail this book as a masterpiece, but undoubtedly someone will. I, on the other hand, advise you to stay far away from it.

Now, it’s time to bathe my soul and try to forget this book exists.

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