Saturday, January 14, 2017

I just lost an opportunity

I just lost an opportunity to promote my new novel, IF ONLY in a popular newspaper because I refused to put my name to an article which mentioned IF ONLY and In Praise of Older Women, but started by paying homage to "Madonna, one of the most famous persons in the world." Several incidents of this kind made me realise that it is not the lovers of classical music and great literature who are elitist. 

Stupid is the new elite, and they do their best to make us disappear - or at least become invisible, so people won't know that there is another world beyond the mass media. When I came to the UK in 1965, the "Culture" sections of the leading broadsheets were about thinkers Bertrand Russell or great classical musicians, great writers - individuals who had added something of value to civilisation. Today even the "Culture" pages are featuring predominantly articles about television programs. And they are surprised that newspapers lose readers.

If you love pop music, every day there is something in the news to reassure you  that what you love is the most important thing in the world.  If you are an intelligent person you are made to feel lonely by the media, confirming that you are member of a very small minority. It’s no use spending money on education if everything outside school tells you that fame is the greatest achievement in the world. The BBC, financed by taxpayers, is as guilty of this as any other media organisation. Talking about the importance of mental health and then feed people explosions, mindless thrillers and nothing that could inspire them to exercise the minds is pretty absurd. You could become mentally unbalanced just by watching a few hours of BBC television. 

This is not just a question of high culture which inspires you to think, reflect, practice concentration and have deeper feelings - the country's mental health, security and  productivity depends on it.
Y

Monday, January 2, 2017

Taking time to read great books


Readers, especially young readers hungry for knowledge and experience, pledge to read dozens of books this year, but I think that they should plan to re-read at least 10 books a year which they like. There is no way to take in everything from a simple reading of a book. Re-reading books we find that superficial books are boring at second reading, when we already know what is going to happen. Really good books, however, are much more exciting when we reread them. We discover a great many insights, great phrases which we had missed the first time and we find deeper meanings also because we are already familiar with the context. Good books become better at each reading, there is no way to get everything out from a good book at a single reading. As bad books become worse, and good book become better, we also learn to tell apart what is true and what is a lie. Lies are not so convincing at second reading. 


I read every year at least a few chapters from Stendhal, Balzac, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Swift, Defoe, Kleist and Pushkin – and of course Shakespeare. Shakespeare is the Bible of all good readers. Even after decades I still pick up new insights and if my own work is good and enriching it is then thanks to reading great literature every day and find about the technique of writing a detail I had earlier missed. 

If my work is any good, half of the credit goes to my rereading some great literature every day. Whenever I feel low, I reciter myself lines from Shakespeare, a Hungarian or English poem – mostly from Auden these days - to keep my spirits up. 



There are millions of books and there is no way to read everything, so it is more important to read a hundred great books over and over again. We can never know everything, it is much better to know fewer things, but at least know them well. I guess another way of putting it this is that it is more important to be wiser than well informed, in regard to books as well as everything else.

I became a missionary on the subject of re-reading on a Caruso beach in Mexico.
It was at the end of the school year in the USA, and there were many school leavers around from the southern states celebrating. I asked the kids what they wanted to read and most of them were going to college and were intending to study English. On one occasion about a group of thirty kids gathered around me learning that I was a novelist. I asked them what their favourite novel was. Not one of them could name the title of a single one. Finally a girl piped up, declaring proudly that she was reading novels all the time. I asked her for her favourite novels. “Oh, they are too many,” she said. I kept urging her to name some of them. After a long silence she then gave me a title of an Eugene O'Neill play, ‘Long days journey into night’. 

If you are interested in the subject I would like to hear your comments, hope to see next time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Very grateful for the reviews on my new book "If Only"


Hello everyone.

I have not blogged for a while, but thought to write a quick blog about the wonderful reviews on Amazon.  It clearly attracts only intelligent and eloquent people. The latest is from Jaideep Prabhu a wonderful; review of IF Only on Amazon.



Here is part of the review Jaideep has written.

"I have just finished reading IF ONLY. I waited until the Christmas break so I could give it my undivided attention and read it in one gulp (as it were).

It’s a wonderful novel, with many different facets that I’m still in the process of digesting.

First of all, it is entertaining. I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out how things were going to turn out. The characters are memorable, as are the worlds Vizinczey describes. He does a brilliant job, for instance, of describing the inner workings of a large business, and all the ruthless machinations of those at the top. He also conveys in many moving ways the ups and downs of a long marriage, especially a childless one."

You can read the rest of the reviews via the link below.


Having such wonderful reviews around Christmas has been a lovely xmas present and can only hope more people provide reviews on Amazon or other sites.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

My tribute to A.A. Gill

He was a great writer.  Some of the best writers today are columnists. This discipline of limited space freed them from the waffle that makes most novels unreadable. The book “Prince among the best”, A.A. Gill has an easy read- concise style and at the same time has a twist in every sentence. A.A. Gill’s other book “A.A. Gill is away" - is the best and wittiest travel book ever - it keeps you glued to the page.



Jeremy Clarkson said that the world is a less intelligent place since he died. I would add that his books will keep in intelligence alive. “A.A. Gill is away” is going to be read for a long time. It is in every bookshop, which means people are asking for it and they will keep asking for it.

He was killed by tobacco at the young age of 62. He quit smoking 15 years ago, but it was already too late. Let his tragic death remind smokers who think they have plenty of time to quit, that tomorrow maybe already too late for them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Mark Twain and San Francisco



I think Mark Twain was the greatest ever American writer and seeing readers from San Francisco picking a quote from him following my Pinterest, prompts me to reminiscence. My previous novels In Praise of Older Women and An Innocent Millionaire were world bestsellers – except in the USA – selling more than 7 million copies. (I got some rave reviews in America as well, and sold in the US alone more than 1.5 million copies of my novels, but under the radar so to speak – for reasons which had more to do with politics than literature.)

An Innocent Millionaire portrays corruption in New York, inspired by the villains who were still in power. It was published just before the opening of America’s yearly Book Fare that happened to be in San Francisco that year.



Harold Evans brought a thousand copies to the Atlantic Monthly Press boutique which booksellers who stopped by could pick up for free. The 1000 copies were picked up within an hour. It was the most spectacular start – unmatched by any other book at the Fair. It was the talk of the day in the huge barn. Harold Evans, my publisher, was in 7th Heaven, but the NY Times in its report of the opening day of the Fair, didn’t even mention that my book was there. It was the beginning of the big silence of the New York media that more or less killed the novel in the USA.



I got a wonderful review in The San Francisco Chronicle, and all across the country, but these couldn’t overcome the silence of most of the NY media. In Europe and Latin America they claimed I was the new Balzac, some compared the novel to Monte Christo in reverse, while another critic wrote “Vizinczey portrays all the worms of the Big Apple”.

 I don’t like writers who focus their critical eye on the poor and the young – they, by and large, can hurt only themselves and certainly cannot hit back. I focus on worms in power. (“Vizinczey’s NY attorneys make Balzac’s shyster lawyers look like little orphan boys,” wrote a German critic). I make no money from An Innocent Millionaire, it is out of print, but you can pick up a used copy on Amazon quite cheaply.

I hope you will also take a look at my new novel, IF ONLY. It is available only in Britain so far, but Amazon US carries it and you can read sections of it free.



You can view and purchase a copy of my new book here

S.V.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

New book released - If Only



I haven't written a blog for years - I lived in my novel If Only, which is finally printed and ready for readers. I revised the novel for decades and now I think it is perfect. Fifty years ago I published In Praise of Older Women myself because no publisher believed in it as much as I did. Now I’m publishing If Only because no publisher believes in it as much as I do.
I am reassured in my high opinion of the novel by the responses I received to the manuscript from preeminent figures in the literary world. Four of them are quoted on the back of the jacket and I am quoting them here as well to give the readers some idea of my best and most accessible work.
“There is so much here it is hard to know where to begin. A high comedy of magic and revenge on earth and in the heavens, IF ONLY seduces the reader into a landscape as recognisable as today’s business pages and as credibly fantastical as Swift or Mark Twain. Jim, the compromised hero, is, like Voltaire’s Candide, a foreigner wherever he goes. Stephen Vizinczey is razor-sharp and fiercely funny as he describes Jim’s adventures in the worlds of old and new money, where the cruelty of ruthless idiots is justified in defence of rewarded greed. Nightmares and visions unravel in translucent, witty prose. Along the way, he shows pity in unexpected places and consistently fights the fight on behalf of the universally threatened: classical music, marriage, literacy and children. Admirers of Vizinczey’s novels and essays have waited a long time for a third novel to match In Praise of Older Women and An Innocent Millionaire, and this, triumphantly, is it.”   MICHAEL RATCLIFFE

“IF ONLY is beautifully written and utterly compulsive. The opening is brilliant and Neb is a wonderful invention. I normally hate everything one can call science fiction but Neb works beautifully, mainly because he’s funny. The novel as whole is dark and bitter. Swift and other great satirists would approve. The description of modern corporate life is masterly. The ghastly Norton sums up everything one hates. As for Ward Bunting… I say dark and bitter (there is a lot of tragedy and unhappiness) but like all good fairy stories it ends happily. CHRISTOPHER SINCLAIR-STEVENSON

“Golden remarks and passages are scattered liberally through the text. The chapters about Comet Claudina and Jim Taylor’s drowning are particularly fine. A Swiftian satire for the hedge fund age. The narrative seems nailed to the floor, highly realistic about people losing their jobs, to the point where an escape from sordid reality makes an impact, and the second part of  the book soars suddenly skywards. The mixture of harsh truths and  escapist fantasy is unique and beguiling.”   GEORGE WALDEN

“I discovered Vizinczey in a bookstore in Strasbourg and was so fascinated that I was determined to become his Italian publisher. Vizinczey has a rare gift: He is able to blend disparate threads of the plot, never uses a word too many; he is incisive and profound; he describes men and, even more impressively, women with a few memorable brush strokes. His new, moving tale is, again, rich in both irony and emotion."   CESARE DE MICHELIS


You can now purchase a copy of my new book via my website at http://www.stephenvizinczey.com/

Readers can lead a rich life without having a lot of money, simply by reading great books. Still, I’m glad I have as few rich readers who are paying £120.00 a copy of the first hardcover edition which is printed in only 100 copies. I hope, both for my sake and their sake, that those hardcovers will be worth a lot more in a few years. The first paperback edition was printed in 5000 copies with a retail price of £14.99. Those who buy the paperback from my website can do so with a click for £12.00, as long as their address is within the UK. For European addresses outside the UK a postal charge of £5.60 has to be added. International mailing charges (i.e. outside Europe) will be £7.50. The retail price of the e-book version is £9.99.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones...

All religious leaders condemned the assassination of the staff at the great French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, France’s Private Eye. I remember, however, that in wake of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, religious leaders warned against hurting people’s feelings. In my submission to the House of Lords Committee considering proposals for strengthening blasphemy laws, I quoted the wise old nursery rhyme, Sticks and stones/may break my bones/but names will never hurt me. This was the drift of the majority of submissions, and the proposal for strengthening the blasphemy laws never got anywhere, but offending somebody’s feelings had become a heinous offense just the same. Jeremy Clarkson nearly lost his job at the BBC because he was thought to use an offensive word –and the examples are many. Wasn’t  a student arrested after a demonstration because he made an offensive comment to a mounted policeman?

The infantilization of Western societies continues apace. People who proclaim their support for free speech, but at the same time condemn the use of offensive words, of hurting people’s feelings in any way, are among the greatest enemies of free speech and add to the infantile atmosphere in which crazed individuals resort to murder because their beliefs were insulted. We live in a pluralistic society where people believe in different things and are touchy about different things. Hardly a day goes by without my feelings being deeply hurt, but that’s the price I am willing to pay for freedom of speech. There can be no serious discussion on any subject if we must restrain ourselves from offending anybody. The media could do a lot to restore sanity.