Tuesday 23 November 2010

Amazon launches in Italy

How long before Berlusconi owns it?

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry if I have been too "reticent" and not "blatant" enough (to quote from yesterday's instructive talk by Susan Hill, Sarah Waters and Philip Hensher at the Royal Society of Literature) to evoke my own ghost over the past few weeks, but hell – especially the publishing one – can be really murky, and I had difficulties in finding my way to bed, let alone writing a daily blog.

What's been going on during this crazy time? I remember four wonderful days in Palermo – Palazzo Lampedusa in via Butera with Gioacchino and Nicoletta Lanza, dinner with Gea Schirò, twenty-four degrees centigrades, the Sarpotta stuccoes, the paintings in the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, sunshine in Monreale, a storm in Bagheria – then the premieres of La bohème and Don Giovanni, the launch of Lampedusa's Letters at the Italian Institute, dinner at Zafferano with Da Mosto and Ian Thomson, a couple dozen books sent to the printers, launches with Tim Parks, Alberto Manguel, Anne Sebba, AN Wilson, the Stephen Spender Prize, excellent reviews (Julian Barnes, Boyd Tonkin, David Gilmour), some editing work, the final word on my translation of Auden – what else?

Oh yes – all the crap that has been going on in Italy and the world – Berlusconi's government about to go down among an erupting volcano of garbage, the false "diaries" of Mussolini being published, the Pope edging towards and then away from condoms, Ireland going bust, the Eurozone shaking in their boots.

Well, my friends, I am back – and I hope I'll be able to post regularly in the coming days.

Going back to Amazon.it, it'll never work. I remember the story of some Italian migrants settling in Keighley (West Yorkshire) in the late 1980's and calling back home every night from a phone box. They had devised a rudimentary tool made of a 10-p coin and a cord to avoid having to feed more money into the phone slot.

It'll be the same with Amazon – some Italian geezer will find away to order books without having to pay, and then everyone else will do the same, making Amazon bankrupt.

Good night for now.


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