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.