“This witty and wry novel…also contains a few flimsy elements and peculiar digressions. Still, it’s hard not to be charmed by the zest of the author. I imagine the gray-bearded 83-year-old professor chortling away as he typed in some book-lined sanctuary.”
And yet for all that, Numero Zero feels oddly empty as a novel, undeveloped, not quite fully thought out. On the one hand, it's a short book, barely 160 pages, and it has something of a sketched-out quality, like a treatment more than a fully rendered narrative.
But passions, especially literary ones, can eventually become overwhelming, and in Numero Zero, instead of giving his readers judicious measures of his research into society’s paranoias, Eco fills page after page with seemingly endless lists of divergent historical fantasies.
“Though this complex, wheels-within-wheels plotting is classic Eco, Numero Zero stands apart from the rest of his oeuvre in a few ways. For one, it is relatively short—less than 200 pages. And it lacks much of the rich, colorful writing of his previous novels, instead opting for long stretches of expository dialogue in which characters lecture one another on Italy’s complex political history.”