A follow -up to “A Rod for my Own Back”

cropped-bookcase.jpgI think I mentioned some time before that I really needed to be goaded, cajoled and pushed into doing things because my natural indolence often pre-empts unilateral action on my part.

Anyway, even though I was slaving away on my book –Raiding Cúailnge – for years, I had neither a title not any real idea of getting it published. And then a friend of mine – we had been friends since we were seven years old when I broke my collar bone sliding in my school socks down his linoleum covered hallway – contacted me from Nantes, where he had been living for the last twenty years or so, to announce, out of the blue, that his book was being published. It was like a bucket of icy water thrown in my face. The cheek of him – to write – and publish a book before I had gotten around to doing one. Anyway, the immediate result was that it galvanised me into action and within a short space of time – well, probably two years, I had chosen a title and finished off my rambling novel based on old Irish manuscripts about Ireland’s legendary hereo, Cú Chulainn.

Anyway, Michael – although for some reason I always refer to him as Mick – asked me to write a review of it on Amazon and I scribbled something like “if your friends are loud and boozy, this is the book to give them if you like a mix of Pink Panther style crime and mystery” or something like that.

So, his book – initially a real paper and cover book but now also available as an E-Book – is called The Full Stop Artist by Michael O’Reilly Kennedy and is available on Amazon.

A different style to mine I’d have to admit – I’m more of the plodding historical kind while if you were a fly on the wall during one of the weird dinner parties with which The Full Stop Artist is punctuated, then you would end up as a drunken – and probably – squashed smear.

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