Well, I have just finished another blast from the past – first published in 1967, and written by Robert Crichton, The Secret of Santa Vittoria was a world-wide best-seller that topped the popularity charts all over the world, according to the back cover of the copy I have.
The New York Times claimed “An irresistibly engaging book. It bubbles with gaiety and wit, bursts with laughter, throbs with the sheer joy of life. It will bring joy to the hearts of thousands.”
The Times merely stated “Will give enormous pleasure” while Daphne Du Maurier simply stated “Superb.”
I have to say it is all true. What a lovely book and with such great characters – Bombolini, the old soldier Vittorini, the haughty Malatesta and the love struck Fabio. I used to live in a small village outside the tangenziale surrounding Milan and this book brought back so many memories of the dark, rich Barolo and the weird idiosyncrasies of the local people there.
The sad thing is that this wonderful book has all but disappeared. I defy you to find a copy anywhere – out of print, gone, pulped, who knows but just no longer available in a casual search on Amazon or The Book Depository or Abe Books or Barnes and Noble or Sony or Apple’s iBook anyway. So, what is the life of a book? Shakespeare, Dante, Homer, Dickens – are these the immortals? How long do books that top the best seller lists last? Are these books that perched for eleventeen weeks at the top of these lists preserved somewhere, in libraries, in gigantic reserves and are they accessible? Someone mentioned recently that Amazon produces / publishes 6,000 new books each day. Where are they all kept and how many copies?
I have no idea but in less than two weeks my own book, Raiding Cúailnge, will be added to this outpouring of words and, no doubt, will be immediately lost in this colossal welter of words being produced every day