on 18 December 1997
Great plot, character development, pace, wit and an achingly real depiction of the legal "profession". I am amazed that Vizinczey was able to capture such nuance of English language when it was a second language for him, and one he didn't begin to learn until he was an adult.Imagine the movie that could be made based upon this book. Wow!
on 10 January 1999
On the advice of a good bookseller, of the kind that has now practically disappeared, I read An Innocent Millionaire quite some time ago. Through that novel I discovered Stephen Vizinczey. The quality of the book inevitably led me to read all his other work, including his essays, which are models of clairvoyance.
I acquired the habit of reading some decades ago, and that habit not only taught me to distinguish the good literature from the bad, but also to appreciate it as a source of knowledge, rather than only of entertainment.
The novel that I am referring to is a veritable fountain of knowledge. It is ideal for those who do not know the USA (or the world), and even more so for those Americans who wish to comprehend their country. Although the future of a work of art is not predictable, this may well be one of those novels that, in a hundred years, will be read to learn of a culture and of a civilization.
But I am not writing these lines to praise An Innocent Millionaire. Its caliber has already been recognized by people such as Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess. And the critics have unanimously (or almost) rated it as one of the books of the century.
I am writing to identify a significant error that I have found in some critiques. In many of these, the book has been categorized as an "adventure novel." Due to the current understanding of the meaning of the word "adventure" this is totally misleading.
The first (and perhaps the best ever) adventure novel from the Western Hemisphere, from which all subsequent novels originated, was Adventures of the Ingenious Knight Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605), by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The fact is that the word "adventure", from Latin adventurus or advenire, simply meant 'things about to happen'. Today, unfortunately, it is associated with the leaps and bounds of James Bond or Indiana Jones.
I do not believe that there is a single novel (including those written in the past tense) in which there are not 'things about to happen'. Even the epic poems of Homer could be considered adventure novels. Especially The Odyssey, a work that was transformed, in the cinematographic version with Kirk Douglas, into what is today considered an "adventure".
I condemn those critiques that lightly pigeonhole works of art. An Innocent Millionaire is a book full of ideas and concepts, with brilliant dialogues that are not only meant to sustain actions. Perhaps this is the reason that MGM is taking so long to make the film. If the novel is not well understood, there is a distinct risk of transforming a contemporary epic poem written in prose (I prefer this classification for An Innocent Millionaire), into a banal adventure.
on 22 May 1998
An Innocent Millionaire is as good as any Graham Greene novel. One of the best novels by anyone in this century. And get this: Graham Greene was one of his fans.
Of course it would make a great movie. MGM has the rights, but they've mucked around with them for years. The television rights have reverted to the writer, so maybe A&E or the BBC or Turner will pick them up and make one of those high-level mini-series.