At last month’s meeting of The Artist’s Bookshelf, I jokingly referred to the protagonist in question (Umberto Eco’s semi-auto-biographical hero Yambo) as a “stud muffin.”
Little did I know that such literary luminaries as the creators of a GOOD HOUSEKEEPING column called “Book Babes,” not only shared my thoughts, but displayed a shocking degree of synchronicity with The Artist’s Bookshelf, by recommending, in response to a reader’s request for “literary hunks,” our first two books in precise, sequential order:
“ Now let’s go from the brawn to the brains. Yes, ladies, it’s possible to define hunk on a more cerebral level, and that’s why I feel free to endorse two new novels with thinking heroes. Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana features Yambo, a rare-book dealer in Milan who can remember the plot of every book and line of poetry he’s read, but not his wife’s or children’s names. If you like literary allusions, his odyssey through illness is saturated with them.
Another brainy hero is found in Dai Sijie’s Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch. Sijie, author of the bestselling Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, builds his second novel around a Chinese convert to Freudian theory who returns from France to liberate his countrymen through psychoanalysis. Mr. Muo may be a bespectacled 40-year-old virgin, but his quixotic vision and Sijie’s sense of the absurd made me fall in love with him, anyway. Like Eco’s, this book plays off a naive wonder that offers a terrific escape from the real world.”
–The Book Babes, Good Housekeeping
(In case you are wondering how I ever discovered this gem, I can only say that Google sometimes leads to very scary places.)