A huge best seller in Italy, this elegantly written little game projects the future of that crazy mixed-up country in 1980. There are virtually no cars because of the prohibitive cost of gas; Pope Paul VII is a deaf German; semi-annually the state borrows four billion dollars from the U.S., putting up its art treasures as collateral; international plots and counterplots proliferate. Astonishingly Italy prospers to such a degree that the U.S., in the ubiquitous person of Henry Kissinger, secretly subsidizes a Communist takeover of the country to restore the ""normal"" balance; thus America, at whatever cost, will continue to call the shots. But this small book won't travel well. For one thing, the intricacies of Italian politics will get lost at sea. The chain of events, with minimal satiric impetus, seems largely dictated by fatalistic whim. The anonymous author is either a prominent cabinet minister or a well-known journalist, which speculation may make for heated gossip on the Via Veneto but won't mean much here.