By Wu Ming, Luther Blissett

1954, the peak of the chilly warfare. In Hollywood memebers of Her Majesty's mystery provider have a deadly undertaking for the dependent Cary furnish. And in Bologna, Pierre Capponi, a lovelorn younger barman, is ready to embark on a painful odyssey looking for his lacking father.

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K, I mean. What, don’t you know the great Hungarian footballer Kociss?! Am I a footballer? No, but it doesn’t matter a damn, number one because I really do know how to play the ball, even though I’m almost twenty, because the way I got the name has nothing to do with the ball, or rather, well, it does, but it’s different. Ok: you know that great team they’ve got in Hungary, who are going to slaughter everyone in the World Cup in Switzerland this year? Ok: they’ve got these players in Hungary and there’s one who scores goals with his head, how can I put it?

Then Verdi, Augusta and Redipuglia, very handsome too, but they’d be placed at best although Augusta might do well if the going was heavy. Until the previous day, before the clear sky of that winter Sunday, it had rained on Naples and the going was still soft. Monte Allegro, the most nervous of the group, turned up snorting and pulling at the bridle, ignoring the voice of his trainer, who seemed to be whispering something to calm him down. Nothing new there: Monte Allegro was one of those animals that are hard to control, that gulp down the first thousand metres before collapsing at the finish.

They had broken her into tiny pieces, all of them together: the producers, the politicians, the police, the gutter press, the bloody psychiatrists . . and of course Cliff. The great playwright Clifford Odets, good friend of Cary’s, intellectual prick. He had seduced her with his big words, sound causes (a long way from home and with McCarthy still to come), the bust of Lenin on his bedside table, quotes from books. He had seduced her and dumped her, abandoned her to the vendettas of Hollywood, to the gossip columns of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, to a bitch of a mother who would have her locked up.

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