Friday, May 22, 2009

First Sentences: Umberto Eco,'s The Name of the Rose

I read The Name of the Rose (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1980) on a trip to Europe. I started it on the plane, then continued reading it during the jet lagged period awake during the middle of the night. I like to read things related to where I travel. With the exception of Richard Russo which I'll read anytime. He needs to write a new one for me to read.

Here's how it starts:

On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbe Vallet, The Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en francais d'apres l'edition de Dom J. Mabillon (Aux Presses de L'Abbaye de la Source, Paris, 1842
Very formal.

Eco obviously wants to set a quasi-official tone, as if this were some kind of report. Not my strategy, but, hey the book was a best seller in every language it was translated into, and mine isn't even close. I've tried to read others of his, particularly Foucault's Pendulum, but to no avail.

This one served up a delicious mixture of Sherlockian whodunit, European history, Catholic doctrine, and heretical literature. I was engrossed from start to finish which means there's a lot of ways to write great stuff. So much exposition so adroitly handled. An amazing achievement.

This novel did for me what novels were originally supposed to do: inform, teach, and move. I was different after having read it than I was before. All this, and a spectacularly fine ride. My wife didn't really dig it though, which means not every book is for everybody, no matter how well crafted.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite book or first sentence? Tell me. Post a comment. I'd like to know. And follow me on

Writing is for me an entrepreneurial activity. For my ideas on entrepreneurship, go to and for entrepreneurial real estate go to and for my ideas on writing and publishing, go to


Ian Kearney, the director of the Kearney Music School, an elite musical training school in Philadelphia, dies after a fall from a balcony during a recital. World-famous cellist, Henry Harrier, recently forced from the faculty, returns to investigate Ian's death when his prized former student is arrested. Henry shows through his brilliant and single-minded pursuit of the truth that, as usual, they have it all wrong. This Sherlock Holmes-type mystery leads the reader through the world of classical music and lays bare the conflicts which dominate the lives of talented adolescents when placed under the pressure of studying for a demanding, stressful, and often elusive career as a classical music performer. Henry Harrier is part John Le Carre's George Smiley, part Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes, and part Orlando Cole the beloved teacher, renowned chamber musician, and until his own retirement, the premier cellist of the Curtis Institute.

Author Profile:

Tim was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1946. In 1951 he moved with his family to Schenectady, New York, where he lived through high school. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, from 1964 to 1968. He graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in history and philosophy. He received his Ph. D. in history in U.S. history in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after spending 2.5 years in the U. S. Army. Most of his army service was completed in Wuerzburg, Germany, from 1969-1971. In 1972 he returned to Madison to complete his doctoral study. His dissertation, Those Who Moved; Internal Migrants in American 1607-1840, combined the statistical analysis of genealogical and biographical data with the study of traditional literary diaries, letters, and journals.

Tim was a market and survey research consultant from 1983 to 2000 and a smoking cessation researcher from 2000 to 2003. His consulting practice focused primarily on conducting community health needs assessment. He authored hundreds of market research reports and published a number of his assessments in Community Health Needs Assessment published by McGraw Hill in 1996 and in a revised volume published in 1999. In 2000 he joined the staff of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he conducted smoking cessation research. He published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoke at national smoking cessation conferences.

In 2003 he moved to Philadelphia and earned his real estate license. He now practices real estate, works on publishing his novels, and studies and teaches entrepreneurship.Tim has written a dozen novel-length stories, a volume of short stories, and about a 3-foot stack of pages poetry. He is currently working on earning his 4th million in real estate sales, publishing his novels, and working on an entrepreneurish handbook as a support for his students.

Tim is a trained violist and an experienced string quartet player. He is an avid listener to classical music and regularly attends classical music concerts. He has two grown children by his first wife and a stepdaughter with his second wife. He likes to cook, read, write, entertain, develop relationships, and help other people. Formerly Tim used to travel frequently. He doesn't so much anymore. Now he regards the combination of real estate practice, writing and publishing, and the teaching and studying of entrepreneurship as enough of a trip.