As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve been rereading How To Travel With A Salmon, a book of comic essays, mostly, by Umberto Eco. I first read it when I was an impressionable, pretentious teenager,* and hadn’t looked at it for about ten years.
I hate to admit it, really, but reading it back now, the first thing that came to mind was: if it was written today, people would be saying how much like a blog it is. Lots of short essays, each only a couple of pages in length. And the style of writing is, in fact, exactly the style of writing that I’m often trying to aim for myself. Witty, dry, sarcastic, intelligent and good-humoured. Reading it now, I realise just how many jokes I didn’t get as a teenager. It’s been a secret influence on this place for a long time, without me realising it.
Of course, the book is far better than anything that’s been written here. But then again, he’s a much better writer than me, and this isn’t being sold in the shops. It’s always good to have something you can aspire to. It’s also not a blog, despite what I said above: the essays were written over the course of about fifteen years or so, mostly in the 1980s. It’s a book, though, that now I’ve remembered I have I’m going to read again, because there’s a lot for any writer to learn from.
* I can remember where I bought it, in fact – at Blackwells in Oxford, on a school trip to the university’s open day.