The Dueling Covers of Queen Loana

I’ve been reading recently about Eco’s new novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. The premise is simple: a bookseller awakens to discover he has forgotten his wife and children but not the hundreds of books he’s read. He then retreats to his childhood home and tries to reconstruct his memory by sifting through the books and ephemera of his life. The text is then woven around poetry snippets and reproductions of the comic-book pages and postcards and sheet music that the bookseller encounters in his boxes and attics.

It all sounds interesting enough that I’d like to read the book, even though the reviewers are not exactly wildly enthusiastic.

[Link: The New York Times review]

But while reading reviews on U.S. and British sites, I found out that, once again, the American and U.K. editions have different covers. I cannot decide which I prefer. The covers appear after the jump (note that one might not be safe for work).

U.S. edition, published by Harcourt:

Cover image, Harcourt edition: Queen Loana

U.K. edition, published by Secker & Warburg:

Cover image, Secker & Warburg edition: Queen Loana

The U.S. cover appears to be more evocative of the reproduced materials that the reader will find inside, but it is not very subtle. The U.K. version features Josephine Baker and her yummy twins, along with some good cowboy and warplane imagery. The overall design and typography also owe much to the old pulp-adventure novels of the 1930s.

Overall, although I like them both I think I prefer the U.K. edition. I wonder if I can justify buying both.


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