The Secret of Santa Vittoria

cropped-bookcase.jpgWell, 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

Two Weeks to go!

cropped-bookcase.jpgI wrote a recent post somewhere  where I was almost gloating about having cracked this blog thingy and I wrote something just now, destined, I though, for the Book category and then I did something – probably not saved the bloody thing – and it all disappeared.  I know if that happened in Word or something like that, I could probably get it back but here, I am a mere suckling in the wilderness.

Anyway, what I had written about was that this day two weeks from now, my first novel , Raiding Cúailnge, will be published.  Published, is that the right term?.  My novel will be available as an Ebook at all major retailers.

Does that demean, diminish or belittle the work?  Does it open the floodgates to vapid twaddle if everyone has a “licence” to write?  What do the gatekeepers of traditional publishers feel about the inroads being made into the preserves of the privileged few who landed a contract with a publishers?  To tell you the truth, I don’t care.  I couldn’t care less about it but Iam just thrilled to have my novel, my brainchild, out there, available online to God knows how many countless millions if they could only just find it!

Book News

cropped-bookcase.jpgIn addition to attempting to promote my soon to be published Ebook, Raiding Cúalinge, available from 20 April from all ebook retailers – and free for the first month if you get one of my freeby coupons – I thought I would mention some of the books I am currently reading – I often read several books ath the same time one in the living room, another beside my bed, another in the back room overlooking the garden, another in the … oops TMI there, you don’t need to know that.

OK, let me get my book junk out of the way right here here’s a link to it

 https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Serkeen

OK, enough said about that for the moment – although later I will maybe do a reading of a chapter, or include some photos of the locale where the story takes place, that sort of thing  And of course I will provide my freeby book coupon later on – whenever I get a chance to work out how to do it.

Anyway, despite having said somewhere that I really like historical novels and so on, I still read fairly widely in a whole load of different areas.

I just finished a book called The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols that I really enkoyed when I first read it more than, I think, 30 years ago.  I think it has stood up pretty well to the tests of time – a wetback Latino (I hope that is not seen as an offensive term, I’m not 100% actually sure what it means other than a Mexican migrant into the US, but if it is racist, please let me know and I will apologise and withdraw it – farmer illegally irrigates his pathetic beanfield, thereby using water reserved for a high flying golf/dude ranch planned development for the area.  Funny, great characters and an endless supply of them, a bit like one of those S.American novels or even, dare I say it, a Dickensian array of characters.

I followed that up with Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.  I loved the movie with Alan Bates, Irene Papas  and whatshisname – it’ll come to me in a minute. Anyway, what I think I really enjoyed then was the music by Theodorakis  – I think that is the right spelling – and of course, Zorba’s dance.  I remember actually buying a vinyl  LP of the sound track I was so impressed with it.

That said, this time around, I was less than impressed with the book.  Maybe I shouldn’t go back and reread stuff that I so much enjoyed when I read them 20, 30 40, 50 years and more ago (beginning to give my age away here, I suppose) but this time around there was something about the style and the dialogue between the two main characters, -the intellectual and the rough diamond, salt of the earth guy – ahh, played by Anthony Quinn in the movie – that just didn’t seem to ride easily.  Bit of an effort to plough my way through it this time around, I have to admit although there were some great scenes  zorba cursing and sneering at the old widow woman, yet still being drawn to her faded charms.

Incidentally, now that I think of it, I subconsciously stole a line from Zorba when I was writing Raiding Cúailnge but I won’t say what it was right nopw.  Read the two books yourself and see if you can fine the one adapted line!  Good luck to you.