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Monday, April 20, 2015

SEATTLE = UCONDUCIVE TO ARTISTIC CREATIVITY


PART I (THEATER)

to come:
PARTS II & III & IV
media, housing, philistinism

complainers, followers, "uncomfortable,"
snooping, snitching
a city of small complaints
men like old women, busy bodies, other-directed,  anal, dirt-obsessed middle class beings, breeders,  not interested crossword puzzlers.
 ===================
WHY SEATTLE IS UNCONDUCIVE
TO ARTISTIC CREATIVITY

​ 
by Michael Roloff

PART I
=A=
I recall that the only theater piece to leave Seattle during the twenty years I have been in these parts is the musical First Date

A creation of Seattle's Kurt Beattie-run ACT theater
&
FIFTH AVENUE THEATER
FIST DATE provides NY Times reviewer Isherwood a chance for wicked fun, as would the Seattle that I could apprise him of if ever he comes to these parts.
Does any of the following sound familiar? An instant lack of rapport; a growing aversion as the minutes pass; a mysterious sense that time has suddenly stopped; a desperate hope that the apocalypse will arrive, preferably right this minute. Magnify those feelings, set them to bland pop-rock music, and you’ll have some idea of the oodles of fun I didn’t have during my evening at “First Date,” the singing sitcom that opened on Thursday night at the Longacre Theater.”
Thus, it occurred to me to dwell on, fathom, why so little of note worth exporting is created in Seattle in the arts (welcoming imports is a different matter), what might militate in the usual and more than usual American ways?
Let me focus on matters theatrical first as I did already some time ago @
&
But let me first revert (avert, revert, what's the vert next?) to the fine summer of 1994 when it did not rain from mid-June until November and everything East of the Cascades burned to a cinder
&
I arrived in Seattle to see some Green after about ten years of desert & semi-desert, to contact relatives, descendants of immigrants of around the year 1900, and friends.
=B=
Matter did not start of all that
badly
I contacted ex-colleague & agent Robert Lantz in New York, “Ah Michael, let me put you in touch with the wonderful Dan Sullivan at the Rep. Sullivan at once turned me over to his assistant Kurt Beattie, and we got along just fine, especially because he had played Peter Handke's
KASPAR
@ THE EMPTY SPACE
in my translation.
I had published and translated a lot of Austrian authors and the Austrians were ready to repay in the form of helping fund a Handke festival. Kurt did yeoman's work in crunching numbers. The idea went over well until I - by then visiting scholar at the U.W. in Germanics - who had only wanted a library card - heard from the chair of my department that the head of the Drama Department, Sarah Nash Gates, said that they were not interested: well, she wasn't for sure, Steve Pearson who then did a first rate production of Handke's
THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER
certainly was, as was Burke Walker the first rate directing teacher & director whose
EMPTY SPACE
had gone belly-up.
However, it was my fault in not apprising myself that I needed that Gates chair person's o.k. - matters of that kind had never been a problem on the East Coast where I had arranged several festivals of that kind at colleges, Smith & Bennington. A belated attempt to convince Professor Gates - the damn thing could have been called "Gat es of Hell Festival" for all I cared who made his money from his translator's cut at such events) of Handke's importance did not succeed.
Now that Handke is acknowledged a the most innovative unique playwright since Brecht,
a playwright of Shakespearean dimension
wouldn't it be a feather in the U.W.'s shaved head
to have done a full-fledged well-funded festival cum symposium at that time!
To get a feel for the scene I did some reviewing (for two tickets, ah and the chick who wanted my spare at the Fifth Avenue) for the organ of the disabled & thus made the acquaintance of Seattle audiences that applaud the sets & giggle easily - appalling compared to the children in Mulege in the Baja when the Circus comes to the pueblo & you see genuine wonder, and not just on the children's faces.
I had been going to the theater since the 50s, and had read plays voluminously, beginning with Shakespeare (courtesy of a Shakespeare-nut stepfather – no, not just proverbially, conceive of hurtling in a Crosby automobile - Frigidaire-size, post WW II vintage - through a suburban housing development with your delightful stepfather elocuting the great monologues at the top of his voice!)
I had had had amazing theater experiences - at the Berliner Ensemble, with Peter Brook, Herbert Berghof, E.G. Marshal, and all the Handke in New York. The Seattle audiences were something else – and they then seemed to claim sophistication, perhaps because they drank cafè au lait.
In the process of trying to get the festival off the ground, I came to know the crème de la crème of Seattle off-off Broadway sprinkle. There seemed to be, or at least have been, a lot of fresh shoots in Seattle, starting in the 60s.
There was still an Autumn all around festival at the time where you could catch three shows at tiny venues on Capitol Hill – that disappeared a few years after.
Meanwhile, other shoots were dying out, too; I think it is a total of ten small and large venues that have gone down, and I suppose it is a wonder that Kurt Beattie, with a lot of compromises, has at least kept A.C.T. afloat.
My translation of Dorst's
FERNANDO KRAPP WROTE ME THIS LETTER
proved the final nail in
AHA Theater's coffin.
Reviewers, I quickly realized, but for the redoubtable Roger Downey but of questionable character, were a problem: not even what I regard as a fairly straight forward play about machismo'sunhappy consequences for women & ultimately, for Mr. Macho, seemed capable of being described halfway accurately except by a freelancer whom Joe Adcock of the yet extant Seattle Post Intelligencer allowed to sub, Misha Berson's sub at the Seattle Times, was a flub (the sub a flub, sub-flubs) as was Longenbaugh at the WEEKLY – no Stranger yet – at the English language premiere of a play that was done all over Europe and was based on Unamuno's famous novella
Nothing Less than a Man.
And the sweet folk at AHA - wonderful work over the years - had not built up a following to keep a marvelous play of that kind from and early closing of its short run.
Ah if the audiences were only as intellectually curious and adventurous as they are as foodies!
Upon Heinar Mueller's death I arranged for a memorial reading and performances at the U.W. Drama School. I had collaborated with Mueller's American translator the Berliner Ensemble graduate Carl Weber on most of the translations.
Great attendance at the Memorial which led to nearly nothing: a sweet kid, not even member of the Drama School, then did Hamlet Machine way off in one of the abandoned buildings in Magnuson Park's NOAA facility.
Neither Carl Weber showed, his wife had this habit of falling ill whenever he wanted to go somewhere, especially with me,
nor did Roger Downey, whose translation of Mueller's Quartet appears to have been the only other Mueller piece ever done in Seattle, at Kazanian's then still extant Theater of the New City which is now the Hugo House – Downey had claimed, to Verlag der Autoren, (A Socialist Author's house, one of the few left-overs of 1968) friends whom I had represented in New York,
that he had exclusive English language rights – the prospect of finding himself on the same stage as Carl Weber, Mueller's American translator, had induced a diabetes attack (if only it had been agenbite!) in someone who had vied to be a food rather than a drama & opera critic of … actually … national talent, if only he had not been a petty and vengeful crook besides! Domage!
- I was becoming privy to Seattle parochialism & would encounter a lot more of it. David Brewster, objecting to Downey reviewing shows at ACT because his wife was a member of the board – David then apologized for his overly protective impulse. Certainly one reason for lack of creativity & a low horizon.
In the course of trying to salvage something of the attempt at a Handke festival,
Kurt then introduced me to a few people each of whom proved to be a breaker of his word.
Arne Zaslove during the course of a decade never read
WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
of which now modest mouse me
had merely wanted to do a reading. I was still in four-hour voice at that time & had done it at venues such as Beyond Baroque
in Venice, Ca.
By then Arne had lost his Bathhouse Theater because the prospect of hosting Theater Zan Zinni at that location had alarmed the Greenlake Green Police! Arne was quite right that Kurt couldn't direct himself out of a brown paper bag, which didn't keep him from sucking up to him with projects. Parochialism! And Kurt then didn't do any Handke as he had hoped he would when he inherited the artistic directorship at ACT.
And it appears he has not realized his deepest wish, to finally premiere Brecht's Mother Courage
in a major venue in Seattle before he retires.
He asked me whether I wanted to do a new adaptation of the Thirty War Year-old Mutter Kuraschfor years I had been thinking of doing an American Mother Courage, and was quite ready, and not to do a Kushner or Steve Pearson, Mother Courage as Cabaret version
(Imagine doing Death of a Salesmen as a comedy, perhaps as Death of an American Hustler!)
but, as an aboriginal Brechtian, as of 1957, I was going to do it with full-fledged urmarxist tragic pathos. What a mother that would have been!
John Kazanian (whose work as a director of performance artists I admire) had sold the building that housed his NewCity Theater and now only did shows at his and his wife's kitchen, promised to read
WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
and get back to me, which he has not to date.
The best chance to still do something spectacular along that line was provided to
Richard White @ Cornish
A half way decent production in the early years of this century, of my proposition for CORNISH to do Handke's highly controversial VOYAGE BY DUGOUT (THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR) would have put Cornish on the map as it has not been for a hundred years
...
Instead White, never got back to me as he promised, and seems to have spent his time giving away money for whatever never left an impression.
Parochialism to the Nth power – the U.S. of A. the biggest parochial self-involved
country in the world!
Not that I didn't see some fine theater while Sullivan & Sher & a few other notables were directing who all departed Seattle for its provinciality.
Meanwhile I think a total of ten theaters have gone down, including the Intiman that tried to revive itself by reviving its once biggest hit
Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA
&
currently is running a competition for the next Kushner!
Pretty pathetic!
The Seattle Rep
had a play “in progress” for some years
far worse than the movie's
in “turn-around”
(the sure sign of death
a notice to the effect of “in progress no matter with what artistic director you encounter it - a good playwright gets the work done)
and Misha Bernson mercifully put the stake into this attempt at a femme GLENGARY GLENROSS
I imagine you could throw millions upon millions into arts funding hereabouts and it wouldn't change the fundamental provinciality that I have seen so many artistic directors flee during my 20 years in these parts - theatre is an area in which I am a bit of an old hand. But then it is an area without a building audience, thus no great surprise that so many small ventures have disappeared, also for reasons of mismanagement or grandiosity. Had I Paul Allen's resources I'd know what it would take to be the right kind of Medici in that area, say like the HB Studio in New York - Herbert Berghof Uta Hagen Studio to put names with the initials  - actor development, an uncompromising dose of truly contemporary and classical theatre, do that for about 25 years and you have something, as well as a loyal educated audience that realized that it had a gem in its midst. A better newspaper would help but is not essential. Give it another 100 years and Seattle will be just like told old-time Vienna!

 
--



-- 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

SUMMA FARRAR, STRAUS & ROLOFF

 Sometimes you get a job by not asking for it. As a matter of fact, I would never have had the temerity in 1966 to ask Roger Straus for a job. FSG was far too august a firm, its list far too intimidating - especially the most impressive American poet, Robert Lowell, whose work I then placed with Suhrkamp. I happened by as the Suhrkamp scout, and then got a call from Roger Straus.
I signed our contract, which I might have shown to my agent, Max Becker. The contract called for participation on my part once a book had sold in excess of 5,000 copies,
and in the event of mass paperback and book club sales of 2 %.
I managed to talk my new colleagues into doing Nossack's THE IMPOSSIBLE PROOF. Moreover, I brought with me three immediately publishable Hesse titles, Ursule Molinari's translation of NARCISS & GOLDMUND and mine of PETER CAMENZIND & BENEATH THE WHEEL,
and we signed a ten-book Hesse contract with Suhrkamp Verlag. I you might say was on my way.

F.S.G seemed to be at a friendly shop, a darling Margaret Nicholson, author of book on linguistic usage, was doing rights, a sweet Bob Wolforth was the comptroller, Giroux was a bit forbidding in his banker's suit, Roger had an elegant and smart secretary in Peggy Miller, the one editor I hit if off with, Henry Robbins, who edited Tom Wolfe & Donald Barthelme, left soon for Simon & Schuster. There were several gay editors, Roger it turned out despised gays, but not lording it over them – overall FSG
struck waif me as a pretty homey place, and that Dorothea Straus,
according to Boris Kaschka's HOTHOUSE
would later describe it as a sexual sewer, was not something I became aware of at the locus. However, traveling with Roger to the Frankfurt Bookfair & staying at the same hotel I realized that his tastes ran in the direction of heterosexual hardcore.

My third author was Nelly Sachs. I happened to have the option on Nelly Sachs at the time that one fine morning in Fall 1966, on waking, the NY Times greeted me with the news of the award. I called Roger and promised to translate a half dozen poems for the next editorial meeting. Then I hired Michael Hamburger and Ruth and Mathew Mead to translate together with me. For me the translation of 65 of those poems was my mourning work and it wiped me out emotionally, which is why I did not participate in the 2ndvolume that FSG published.
Things therefore went well initially. All first ten Hese titles were sold to Bantam Books for handsome advances, NARCISS for $ 500,000. CAMENZIND and BENEATH THE WHEEL for 250,000 however I received accounting and the agreed royalties only on the first five of the first ten book contract I just discovered. I recall buying a Napoleon style raincoat in Paris and turning it over to author Peter Handke in 1971 when he was in need and was indeed already an early and future conqueror and how we (his wife and buddy Kolleritch of Short Letter Long Farewell fame, and I) were amused how well the coat suited him and how excellently he struck the emblematic pose!
    At the same time that I made the so surprising discovery of the halving of the percentage in Spring 2014 and then realized that Farrar, Straus had not paid me the royalties due under my 1966 agreement on the second 
    five titles of the first ten book Hesse contract, all published in the first half of the 1970s and all sold to Bantam mass paperback for very large advances in which I was meant to participate, I had been bugging Roger Straus, for quite some time, since 1994 to be precise, pay up under the second ten book contract.
    First ten book titles on which I have never been paid my share.
  • Pictor's Metamorphoses: And Other Fantasies
    Hours in the Garden and Other Poems: A Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition)
  • Knulp: Three Tales from the Life of Knulp
  • Strange News from Another Star and Other Tales by Hermann Hesse.
  •  If the War Goes on: Reflections on War and Politics by Hermann Hesse (Jun 1971)

  • The fact that I made this discovery - (while  attempting off and on for the past twenty years to get Farrar Straus to live up to our agreement with respect to the second ten book Hesse contract which I negotiated in 1969 while still in their employ, and which ten titles I selected) as well as a number of other titles (*) - that kind of  unawareness on my part shows, on the one hand, a certain indifference or nonchalance as long as my income suffices for someone who about 30 years ago chose to work exclusively as a writer and scholar and occasional translator. I had seen and experienced quite enough during my twenty-five years in New York. That is, it manifests a peculiarity of editors who regard themselves as servants of their betters, the authors, and who far too often think too little of themselves. Genuegsam
  •  is the German word and although the word has a certain social acceptability it does not really signify a happy state of being, or how anyone ought to be. Turns out that it is self-destructive not to be greedy. For one thing, these servants become far too easy to exploit. So how did this come about?
  • In 1969 Roger Straus and I negotiated a second 10 book contract with Suhrkamp, the selection being mine, especially keen I was on Hesse letters many of which advised those who had approached him to find someone but not him as a leader preferably to become inner-directed (I made a selection which FSG eventually published with Ted Ziolkowski as outside editor). Since I knew of F.S.G.'s reluctance to commit huge amounts to advances I managed to get both parties to come together at the sum of $ 5,000 per title on signing, that is, a total of $ 50,000; and this was the one time I had lunch at the Four Seasons - the Suhrkamp New York agent, whom I had no idea I might replace on her resigning the account, was the Berliner Joan Daves, whom I much liked for her 30s stylishness, and whose husband Ashton I would later use as translator for Adorno as editor at Continuum Books, and I can’t say I ever paid attention or noticed that Roger was a chintzy tipper. I myself, having had barista-type jobs, make sure to tip even when broke.

  • The first Hesse contract ran through Joan, and the second, then, was meant to run through Lantz-Donadio when I became Suhrkamp agent through that agency, but the contract never did – and the reason it was so delayed had to do with Dr. Unseld renegotiating the terms for mass paperback sales and running into objections, of course, on the part of Roger Straus – (ah the sacredness of a contract!)  And so it instead ran through Kurt Bernheim after the agency Lantz-Donado and I had resigned the account in 1971, in part for Dr. Unseld’s violation of his contractual agreements with Farrar, Straus of which he did not consult with his agents – the most experienced and sophisticated Robert Lantz would certainly have advised against doing so, especially in Unseld’s bull-in-the-china-shop manner.
  • Roger Straus, on the Bull  holding him up (the bone of contention was the mass paperback income split) came crying to me, and didn’t seem to believe that neither I nor Robbie (as Lantz was known) or Candida had the faintest. And it was I who had been instrumental in the introductions back in 1966, when, as Suhrkamp scout I had stopped by Farrar, Straus to express my interest in their list for Suhrkamp and Roger Cherrypicker Straus had subsequently offered me a job at a firm that I thought far too august to approach.

  • Within the year of representing Suhrkamp, as of 1969, I had a call from Roger Straus saying I ought not to double-dip the second Hesse contract. After consulting with Candida Donadio (who agreed with Straus if only to please a publisher he sought to remain on the best of possible terms with for the mother hen’s authors), I did so, it seemed to be an ethical matter, even though I realized that Roger was also saving himself his minute royalties to me who found himself supporting his job representing Suhrkamp - fulltime it turned out instead of the anticipated half-time @ 125 dollars per week - with handsome royalty income from the first five titles of the first ten book Hesse contract! Hesse, all around manna it appears wherever he manifests himself! And then elicits greed! And I, not entirely naïve to the articulateness of money, desisted the temptation to go to Bantam Books and sell the second ten book contract for a million or more and not only fund my unwanted agentship but perhaps edit them myself at a great salaire – no, I liked Farrar, Straus too much for that, and the idea did not seem to have occurred to the needy Suhrkamp or the greedy Hesse heirs who were prodding Unseld.

However, the 2nd 10 book Hesse contract was not yet signed and then never ran through Lantz-Donadio, and so I did not even manage to dip once. When I called Roger Straus' attention to that state of affairs once back from Mexico in mid-90s he refused to answer, as has his successor Jonathan Galassi or Holzbrinck the new owner, nor John Sargent the head of Macmillan U.S.A. Imagine that! I bring a total of what is now fifty books to Farrar, Straus, they make millions, Roger Straus sells the firm for $ 30 million – and one thirtieth of that is certainly the VAT I added, and they cannot respond! Perhaps Jonathan Galassi, so heavily promoted by Roger Straus, over his own son, is just as clever and crooked as his mentor.
At the same time that Roger wanted me not to “double-dip” (in 1970) Roger wanted to take a kind of snapshot of where we were at in midstream with a lot of titles still in the pipeline, and so we did. It mentioned all the books on which I was then earning my participation  (but the Nelly Sachs on which I actually deserved  greater participation than any other considering the amount of work involved in putting OH THE CHIMNEYS together, translating 65 of the poems myself. However, Roger at one point said "we don't pay on poetry translation", typical as we now know of his fundamental not just chintzy- but crookedness), yet there seemed no need to specify the various other titles in the pipeline, such as the second set of five Hesse titles from the first ten book contract, the second volume of Handke plays (RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE AND OTHER PLAYS) all but They Are Dying out I had already translated (the first was the near best-selling then Kaspar & Other Plays), or published titles such as H. E. Nossack’s
The Impossible Proof or Christa Wolf’s Thinking about Christa T. which I had acquired and whose translations I had edited but which had not earned out for me yet, or so I was told.

Leaving FSG in 1969 with so many titles that I had been instrumental in acquiring still to be publishes indeed meant leaving as it were mid-pipeline. One question that was never addressed was that of authors who subsequently published numerous books through that firm, of which there was one, Peter Handke, was especially productive and remunerative.

  • It now looks to me, with FSG failing to account to me over these many years, as though this "snapshot" was a trick of Roger's (typical it turns out) to make the then status a permanent one and try to get out of the commitments of the original agreement. Crude and brutal looking Roger Straus, it then turned out, was a man who, while he deceived and distracted you up front, was tricky enough to filch the wallet out of your back pocket. There are other, grosser, analogies.

  • I must say that at that time I could not have conceived of someone who was making millions off treasures I had brought him screwing you in that fashion; meanwhile, more experienced, it turns out not to be not that an unusual event. Roger screwed Bob Giroux who brought him not only great authors but also the kind of window dressing, the kind of suit, Roger had needed since the beginning when he affixed the name of a first rate editor, John Farrar, who was down and out, to the firm's name, first. Cudahy, it ctd. like that. There I sat at editorial meeting and Robert Giroux, like a banker in his suit, was suffering, it turns out, to the extent that the thought of Roger made him desist from writing a history of the firm. And where could he go with his great authors after having left the other half at Harcourt, Brace?

  • Over the lifetime of a well-selling title that one percent or two can sure add up! Roger was looking ahead, saving small tips for the decades. And did so knowing he was always on the verge of bankruptcy.
  • I lost hundreds of thousand by agreeing to be agreeable, obliging, and not pointing out the above-mentioned truth. It took analysis to make me aware of that quality.

  • Had I been warned about Straus in any way, aside that I realized the guy was a brute who did not belong in literary publishing yet meanwhile had a great list and Bob Giroux's authors, great window dressing ever since he took poor beat-up John Farrar's name and added it to his in 1947? Had I had any warning that something might be seriously amiss aside the arbitrary decision regarding the Nelly Sachs volume? Actually I had. I'd gotten to know Cecil Hemley the founder of Noonday Press which paperback line Cecil sold to Roger Straus, about the time I went to work for F.S.G., but independently of Roger, I think via Bryn Mawr classmate Paula Diamond who worked for Farrar, Straus around that time??

  • I did not ask Cecil how he had been screwed, and Cecil's son, a fine writer did not know - I contacted him to find out whether Cecil, who died in 1966 while his son was eight years old, might have made his unhappiness with Roger part of family lore. It's not hard to know why Straus was so chintzy and foresightful of minute royalty payments – Farrar, Straus if you are to believe Boris Kachka's account of what Dorothea Straus told him was skating at the verge of bankruptcy all those years -
    yet with an estate in Purchase, a yellow convertible Mercedes (with which my yellow Firebird nearly once collided at the intersection of Park Avenue where the traffic shoots out from the overhead), and his many thousand dollar suits that the controversy adverse Roger never wanted to get any egg on while alive - he may have just been putting up a good front if we are to believe what his wife Dorothea says about the firm’s finances, and in that respect was like a lot of the publishers who lived from one list to the next until the great majority of them were absorbed by one or the other conglomerate – owned by the shark of sharks. Roger Straus may have worried about egg on his suits, a shame there is no hell where he might suffer the infamy of the subsequent shower of egg salad!
  • Amazing in retrospect that the New York Times, via reporter Henry Raymond, kept treating Roger as a kind of oracle of New York publishing! That Roger Straus is bruited to have been a great publisher is only possible in the U.S. He never made anything of Noonday paperback line or of Hill & Wang, he kept absorbing small independents but they failed to flourish. He ruined the flourishing publication history of Handke in this country which I recount not only in the above link but also here;

  • He permitted my nemesis, Michael DiCapua (who appears to have resented that my first two authors were Nobel Prize winners and that I was some kind of interloper golden boy) to kill some of my best projects, e.g. an Adorno reader that it took a year to fashion with Adorno prior to his death in 1969 and for which Susan Sontag was going to write the introduction – what a real differenc such an event would have made at that time! Killed by an utter twerp, childrens books editor, who was even editor in chief at the time I did what Handke then felt was the best translation he had seen to date, of his Walk About the Villages. A twerp and ass-licking stiletto man as the now city tomcat thinks of him!

  • Handke once commented how unlucky I seemed to be, you can’t be but half lucky at best if you end up in business with the likes of Roger Straus, a dofus like Harold McGraw, Werner Linz and my Urizen Books partners. Not that I did not work for fine people in publishing, Sam Lawrence, Bill Koshland, George Braziller, or nearly but then not as we had planned, Arthur Rosenthal. About the only really good thing that Straus then did was promote Jonathan Galassi where the firm strikes me as far superior to what it had been; although it surprises the hell out of me that Galassi - fellow poet, translator, scholar - fails to respond to me in this matter, but goes into the no-response shell that I suppose the legal Beagles prescribe in situations of this kind. It is so easy to repair some of this damage, and as indicated above I am nonchalant in the matter as long as I get by, which I am not at age 79 on a yearly income of approximately 8 thousand dollars, and if it weren’t for a friend who puts me up I’d be out on the street; and can't get my teeth fixed.

  • Of course, it is also a matter of principle, and that the principle meanwhile seems not to impress Jonathan Galassi or the other powers at Holzbrinck, speaks not well for them – I don’t know Jonathan Galassi, perhaps he turns out to be a chip of the Straus block and that is why Roger promoted him as he did.
  •   
  • There are terms on which I would settle, I imagine that that sum is to be found at the cost which FSG/ Holzbrinck incurs by not paying up, although I expect the cost is simply that of keeping one of their house beagles busy with this case as compared to another. Consigliere tell me that this is an instance where one could challenge the statute of limitations! However, all the monies in such a protracted process would go, guess? Thus one thing I can do is make sure that the world knows what Farrar, Straus and Jonathan Galassi are like.

  • From here I have to pay $ 10 K just to file the suit in Federal Court, a sum I have not had in my account for more than ten years; although NY State court would be the way to go since the contract was drawn and executed there. 

  •  And here a link to the list of venues and people who have stolen either my name or money from me in the course of playwriting - strictly as background material for a further insight into the Wild West.
  •  http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2013/08/mis-attribution-of-translation-credits.html
  • 1)
  • Dear Victor: (who does the royalty statements for FSG/ MacMillan
  • Having occasion to take a careful look at the recent royalty statements that FSG/Macmillan/Holzbrinck rendered to me I notice that although the royalty rate of 1% for my participation in NARCISSUS & GOLDMUND is correct, elsewhere, as for BENEATH THE WHEEL, it has been reduced to 1/2 of 1 %. Question is, how long has this been going on, and if I cannot trust the extraordinarily fine print there, why should I trust the sales figures? 

  • I say so with special emphasis since under my original agreement I just discovered I have never been paid - in all these 40+ years - for the second five books of the first 10 book Handke contact, all of which, also, were sold to Bantam Books for mass publication at extremely handsome rates. $ 500,000 for NARCISS and $ 250,000 for WHEEL, CAMENZIND and the others, in which I also participated at 1%. These five books I have not been paid for are:*
  • Pictor's Metamorphoses: And Other Fantasies
    Hours in the Garden and Other Poems: A Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition)
  • Knulp: Three Tales from the Life of Knulp
  • Strange News from Another Star and Other Tales by Hermann Hesse.
  •  If the War Goes on: Reflections on War and Politics by Hermann Hesse (Jun 1971)\

  •  Now we come to two other matters that are absent from your royalty statements:

  • 1) An accounting for the titles on the 2nd 10 book Hesse contract with Suhrkamp & 
  • 2) An accounting for the 18 Handke titles on which I ought to participate under the original agreement if they have sold more than 5,000 copies.

  • About the 2nd 10 book contract there is this to be said.
  • Incidentally or not, of the total of 20 Hesse titles I brought to Farrar, Straus I am presently receiving accounting on income generated by five of them, which are listed as in print at the FSG/Macmillan site, as are eight (8) others, which leaves 7 important titles unaccounted for - are they out of print or do they generate income via their various once subsidiary licensings?

  • Hoping all is well with you in the city of thieves, or shall I be kinder as I watch my crows steal from each other, and call it city of magpies?
  • Michael Roloff
  • 2)
  • About 1994, Kurt Bernheim, my successor as Suhrkamp agent in New York, informed me that the famous second ten book contract ran over him. My various letters to Roger Straus to remind him that I had withdrawn because he asked me not to double-dip went unanswered. If I am not paid I cannot pay, that cascade is very simple indeed. The NY Times obituary of Kurt Bernheim astonishingly has dear Kurt introducing Hesse & Handke into the U.S., who long before he inherited the Suhrkamp representation had drawn contracts through other agents in this country.
  •   Michael Roloff, April 2015



Wednesday, April 08, 2015

1966 STATUS

In 1966 when Roger Straus offered me a job as German scout & editor for German books after I had stopped by their offices as the Suhrkamp scout, I had written quite a few stories for the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Review & been its editor during my senior year. Yet as of early on I saw myself much more as a servant of writers. I loved graduate school at Stanford as I loved learning at all stages of my life. However, the prospect of life as a member of a German department made me go dead at my orals; and I found University life arid & later I realized I ought never have attended Haverford but NYY or CCNY, a city school, such as the University of Munich, which had been perfect. I had become something of a Poundian during my senior year in college, the ABC of reading was one of many guide that I worked through quite studiously. In November 1960 in Fairbanks, Alaska, at very much a McCabe & Mrs. Miller party – dwelling where my adventuring would take me, after a summer & fall of fire fighting and geological surveying, I had my Eureka Poundian ABC of Reading moment: I would return to NY & start a magazine. And so I did: Metamorphosis, with Fred Jameson as fellow editor & it was published by lovely Michael Lebeck's Hillsboro Press. Unfortunately, Michael at the time that the third issue came off the press joined a Sufi sect, and that was that. I made my living as reader of German books for a variety of U.S. publisher, translation doctor, reader for book clubs, for Columbi Pictures, and translator. I spent the year 1994 in Germany scouting for Seymour Lawrence, first at Atlantic, and then at Knopf. During that time I met Siegfried Unseld & a lot of other interesting people. I had family connection to publishing both in Germany & the U.S. Unseld & I hit it off over my enthusiasm for certain books of Hans Erich Nossack. I became their, or for all I know, one of their scouts. I had interviewed Uwe Johnson during his visit to New York, a valuable lead to East German publishing. I interviewed and made friends with Peter Weiss in Berlin. I was invited to the Gruppe 47 meeting at Princeton in Spring 1966. I even gave a party – with Jakov Lind & Pannah Grady, at her place in the Dakota, for the Gruppe. For a short while I sought to combine the literary & social life, but had entirely the wrong wife to pursue those ambitions. I was pretty well read at that point both in contemporary German & American literature, and as a scout had learned a good deal where gold might be found.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

PETER HANDKE & THE NEW YORK TIMES: A 50 YEAR HORROR STORY!

THE NY TIMES & PETER HANDKE:
A FIFTY YEAR HORROR STORY -
ANNOTATED.



Dear Mr Sulzberger, dear Mr. Baquet, dear Ms. Mattoon (Editor of the Arts Section of the New York Times), the Public Editor:


I herewith demonstrate to you & your colleagues & the world at large, the truly abysmal Peter Handke reception in your pages since the name Peter Handke first appeared in your pages appr. 50 years ago.


There is the singular instance of adequate reception of his work in the theater, by the late
MEL GUSSOW.
There is a single truly adequate - reprintable - review of a single title, plus a few near adequacies,
and the most horrendous treatment of his most serious later work & neglect of significant events such as Handke's receipt of the
Ibsen Prize.
Not a single review by a peer,
as a matter of fact there has only been a single peer review of his work in the U.S. in these fifty years,
it is William Gass's review of
MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN'S BAY
Steve Wasserman commissioned it for the L.A. Times Book Review:
See link at discussion of
NO-MAN'S BAY
below.






SHAME, ESPECIALLY ON THE BOOK REVIEW! 
==============
Handke's name might be expected to appear first at the Gruppe 47 Princeton Meeting in Spring 1966
but no,
the - I guess - “Bolean” search term Handke first brings up no end of “handkerchief buyers” !!!!




who visit the great city and are memorialized in the business pages.


Then there appears a
Georg Handke,”
disgraced member of the East German Socialist Unity Government,
who might be related to Peter Handke's MONSTROUS stepfather Bruno – the name “handke” has little to do with “HAND” but is the mash-up of a Polish last name...
we are in the region about which
Guenter Grass observed that
if you are Polish it's good to have a German name, and a Polish last name
if you are German...
or... a mashup!


Ah, but here it is: first mention of Peter Handke in the NY Times


Friend Josef Bauke of the Columbia German Department
Then a slew of mere mentions
leonhardt
marc slonim
and to my own surprise I come upon myself who failed to remember that I plugged Handke's second novel when I wrote up the Frankfurt Bookfair
michael roloff








marc slonim
irving wardle
john simon
harold brainin
francois bondy
father of luc
who will direct many fine Handke performances


AND THEN THE FIRST REVIEW
-it is a first rate one - of the first performance of Handke plays in English
 by
mel gussow
Unfortunately it is mostly BUT NOT ENTIRELY downhill from thereon. DREADFUL THE PAST DECADE it got a lot worse under Ms. Mattoon's editorship.
Gussow has read the plays,
has a fine take on them, is right about the utterly untalented director Schulz's direction....


Then a few notices about the upcoming performance of
Ride Across Lake Constance
and Clive Barnes goes missing with his review


And the Barnes miss is a major lacuna. Here's a man who's been watching Boulevard Theater all his life and doesn't realize he's just watched the ultimate inversion persiflage of
Blvd theater, better than anything Noel Coward did along that line, doesn't see the affinity to Ionesco, knows nothing about the then contemporary
HAPPENING AESTHETIC,
remains unaffected
by the syntactical legerdemain and thus misses out on the catharsis that the play produces, as good as that of a good hour with the best analyst. A true release!
A MAJOR LOSS TO THE THEATER AND TO THE CULTURE! BARNES AS DEAD AS THE CULTURE AS MOST THEATER GOERS.
At least he wasn't bored or get on a high horse like the audience that was bereft without it's strap the story to hang their minds on.

http://handke-drama.blogspot.com/2010/06/ride-across-lake-constance.html

Next real review to appear
    -aside roundups that mention Handke -
    is my once oldest friend frank conroy's review of my translation of
GOALIE'S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK


Conroy, then, in 1972 was my oldest friend, I'd known him since fall 1954 & I shared my translation of GOALIE with him a few years prior. Meanwhile my friend couldn't handle the success of STOPTIME, his first published book, and is holed up in Nantucket and has sudden need to do a bit of hustling, this review being one example.
If still in NY I'd have informed the lazy bones that Goalie was Handke's third novel, that Handke was chiefly a prose writer, but a poet as well, and Conroy if he'd gone to grad-school – we are 14 years out of college! - would have known that authors can be many sided, especially continental ones, and he would not have had to bullshit his way through the long opening of the piece, nice bullshitting as bullshitting goes, at least he picked up on Handke's theatricality, if not his hysterical side, but he misses what the opening sentences do to the mind that reads them,
inducing a state of paranoid schizophrenia
(Handke nominated a study of linguistic usage by paranoid schizophrenics as book of the year),
and makes the text out to be pure narrative phenomenology. Later in life Conroy will boast that upon entering Haverford he'd already read everything. I gave him to his hearts delight the collected Wallace Steven poems for a wedding present, and Conroy took to the one great critic who is on the side of artists, Walter Benjamin, udderwise conroy remains an innocent to that field. And still became a wonderful writer.

Frank's piece, though it could do without the long intro, and is devoid of mention of the linguistic ingenuity at the heart of the novel, and other matters, is one artist recognizing another and it is unfortunate that he and Handke never met, for by the time I gave my little Handke party in Spring 1971 Frank was living in Nantucket. Two high-end autists with great artistic talent. Handke if he knows the book would love Conroy's OF TIME & TIDE.
Domage.
It is also unfortunate that Frank's editor at the Book Review either did not know what's what or was too lax in cutting the bullshitting.
=====
Then richard locke has his go at GOALIE and he's better read than Frank, but is all involved in Lit Talk.

but it's an interesting piece.

The unfortunate Clive Barnes now redeems himself with his go at
KASPAR -
easy work if you can get it!

Even Walter Kerr
likes
KASPAR

After all the work I'd done on the translation and working with herbert berghof and e.g. marshal & doing re-writes for Peter Brook I was in the Far East for the Premiere & didn't see the Kerr review until now. I'm impressed by the kicks Kerr gets out of the play.
Next review is JOHN ROCKWELL'S of
SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL
?
Rockwell is the kind of critic who needs (needed) to take a puppy to bed and not a book, he will really stick his foot into it the only other time he has a go at a Handke work.

Next is MICHAEL WOOD
on
SORROW BEYOND DREAMS

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E0CE7DE113FE136A05754C2A9629C946490D6CF
And Clive Barnes has a go at the dramatized version of
SORROW
easy work, socially redeeming stuff,
pulls all the right heart strings.

WALTER KERR
likes SORROW as much as Barnes

Eventually we find out that Ms. Sivec/ Handke
killed herself at the prospect of the return of her monstrous husband from a TB sanatorium:
The Sivec/ Handke clan seem never to have heard of separation or divorce!
Deepest darkest rural Austria!
The hard-working - since early childhood - genius son turns out to be - although autistically hypersensitive & seeing wave lengths we can only dream of -
a social oaf as a young man, not all that surprising,
in retrospect.

Next in 1977
John Leonard
A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E01E7DA143BE036A05757C2A9609C946690D6CF
hates it!
Is too well read for his own good and thus fails to respond to the suicide-inducing text, also misses the ACTUAL moment of true feeling.
That is all that counts.
There's a big back story to this book, but you cannot judge a book by its back-story.
Handke can be said to be in part responsible for all the lit crit talk about his work with all the allusions he makes, but when he is wounded literature is his safety net!

LEONARD MICHAELS
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9900E1D9103BE43ABC4950DFB166838C669EDE
whose early work made me recommend him to Suhrkamp
is not that much better on
MOMENT OF TRUE FEELINGS

MEL GUSSOW
once again on
SELF-ACCUSATION

The formidable ANATOLE BROYARD,
whose WHAT THE CYSTOSCOPE SAID
is well remembered,
on
THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN
is as blank as Barnes,
fails to describe the book,
would like it to be a different book, and must have been a fan of
NY TIMES MODERN LOVE section
where everything between the turtle doves ends up making psychological sense.
One major point here is that the
LEFT-HANDED WOMAN'S
decision is beyond psychology
(though no doubt some shrink could have been found to convict her of being a latent depressive).
Once again there is a big back story to the novella, which again is of extra-literary interest.

Now ernst pawel on the handke phenomenon
comes out clearly in favor of
LEFT-HANDED WOMAN
that was published in its entirety by The New Yorker

Mel Gussow
reviews the Yale Rep
production of
THEY ARE DYING OUT

and is very kind but
misses its very Austrian farcicality, no Nestroy, Raimund, or Goldoni or Shakespeare for that matter.

VINCENT CANBY
on the Wenders/ Handke film
THE WRONG MOVE
and on
LEFT-HANDED WOMAN

WALTER GOODMAN
on
THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
AND NOW
RICHARD LOCKE ON
WEIGHT
somewhat redeems himself.

NEXT IS
michiku kukatani's
REVIEW OF
ACROSS”
(The Chinese of Pain/ the Water Torture)
which reminds me why I can't ever abide more than a paragraph
of her cramped mind,
whereas
Lawrence Graver
writes the one and only republishable book review in your pages in these fifty years.

THE NEW YORK TIMES
never reviewed
Handke's THE ABSENCE, neither the book nor the film.

http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2012/02/absence-die-abweseneit.html

a book reading which can be experienced like as a film -
talking about legerdemain!

Nor is
the compendium of three works that in American is called
A SLOW HOMCOMING
or any part thereof reviewed in the Times pages -
my guess is a review was killed? At that point it had been 7 years after THE PUBLICATION OF LEFT-HANDED WOMAN
when Handke was hot in every sense and that the miserable Roger Straus finally put out another Handke. What if he'd put out the title novel, short as it is, the New Yorker would certainly have run its phenomenal Alaska section.
Nor did the NY TIMES review my best translation
WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
but in this instance because the chintzy publisher
ARIADNE PRESS
does not send out review copies,
not even to Publisher's Weekly or Library Journal
IMAGINE THAT!

Nor my translation of
INNERWORLD OF THE OUTERWORLD OF THE INNERWORLD -
There must have been a poet about who could have had a lot of fun with that;
then friend Fred Seidel was
much intrigued when I showed the work to him!
Donald Barthelme was going to run
a large selection in a magazine
of his that never saw the
light of day.
Nor my translation of
NONSENSE & HAPPINES
or of Seagull Books recent publication
of Handke's novel/drama
STORM STILL


or take note of Handke's drama reply to Beckett's
KRAPP'S LAST TAPE

or of PAJ JOURNAL'S
publication of the great
VOAYAGE BY DUGOUT
http://handke-drama.blogspot.com/2010/06/voyage-by-dugout-play-that-came-out-of.html


JANET MASLIN
ON
WENDERS/ HANDKES
WINGS OF DESIRE
I disagree - but chacun sa gout!


THE REPETITION
is Handke's REMEMBRANCE OF TIMES PAST
it retells from that perspective the story of a high school grad going to search out his beloved Slovenian fruit-growing uncle's origin in Ljubljana, he walks he takes the railroad, sleeps curled up around the toilet bowl in a railroad station. REPETITION is marked by a profound slow walking rhythm.
It is a cult book.

https://thegoaliesanxiety.wordpress.com/repetitions-and-vampires-a-reasonable-dictionary/

THE REPETION
made a huge impression on me
in 1986 when I finally was close to being and could appreciate the way the book breathed, its rhythm.

THE REPETITION
is reviewed
by David Pryce Jones
a professional anti-communist & anti-Nazi and all around ignorant asshole who
wants the kid to inveigh against Austria's belated failure to acknowledge its enthusiastic complicity with Nazism and inveigh against Tito photos in Slovenia.
and is entirely unaware how Handke dealt with the Waldheim affair, nor of course that Handke, who writes very intimate prose, already treated, in his preferred ambiguous manner, the theme of persistent Nazism in ACROSS.
See the Guardian review instead.
http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/repetition.html
How the editor of the book review allowed this piece of garbage to appear in its pages is beyond me.

THE AFTERNOON OF A WRITER
is reviewed by herbert mitgang who, I gather, was regarded as a jerk by his fellows at the NY Times
and LINDA SIMON too
has a go at
AFTERNOON
and neither of these reviews
knows how to DESCRIBE what they allegedly read nor summarize the happening but infer that the writer must be a reprehensible person.

What does this “projection screen”
(psychoanalysis can be said to be nothing but an unfolding of one's projections)
of a book actually
allow a reviewer to say?
A reviewer might notice that
a section of it is written in dream images – where the writer is hurt by the gossip in Salzburg's fat alleys and it thrown like a woman hit and run victim to the side of the road. Writers can become notorious, simply because the bored middle class snoops have nothing better to do than gossip.
(Next in line hereabouts is a piece on why the city named after Chief Sealth is so entirely unconducive to creativity.)
What writer has not a “former ex-friend?” - the where and whyfores of that are not detailed here. What writer doesn't have a friend whom he meets at a pub? What writer doesn't feel both low and then address the world from on high as he goes to sleep? But how many of them can condense the matter into such a beautiful projection screen?
As to what kind of person he great writer is when he doesn't have his safety pencil in hand: To put it in a nutshell: in some ways the most marvelous person I have ever encountered, but there's
the devil in Ms. Jones”
and AFTERNOON contains
one instance
  • that mention about the ex former friend –
  • that, if I were to open up, would devastate that devil, but it has no bearing on the nature or quality of the text.

JOHN ROCKWELL
reviews
HOUR
-the summa of all of Handke's early theater work -
not that Rockwell would know. produces a catharsis just
as LAKE CONSTANCE does.
It is one of the great modern texts, others being Heiner Mueller's QUARTET & HAMLET MACHINE.
Mr. Handke's text can be read as a series of highly literary stage directions. A town square is the main "character," through which promenade 31 human actors playing some 200 roles, as well as a village band. Despite earnest symbolic intentions, the whole thing seemed more amusing and stilted than profound. It was adeptly realized, however, and was greeted rapturously by a full house of Peymann supporters.

And here is Alan Riding's reportage
on
HOUR
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/26/theater/the-drama-before-language-intervenes.html


Birkets goes off base on the THREE ESSAYS
but not by much
and fails to realize that Handke is as interested in the PLACES where he sets his work as in the ostensible themes.
He misses that JUKE BOXES were an
escape from family during
Handke's youth,
later Handke will write the essay
ON THE SHIT HOUSE
whence he escaped his fellow students at the Tanzenberg religious boarding school, because they nauseated him: Handke has a nausea problem because he has too many nerves! EXCESS is the source of nausea. As a kid the juke box provided an escape from the family.
Margot Jefferson
is far worse than Birkets
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/07/books/books-of-the-times-in-a-story-of-inwardness-the-hero-is-always-the-self.html

YUGOSLAVIA INTRUDES
and STEPHEN KINZER
provides a pretty good version of what's called
an “objective account” of
the inception of a decade(s) long
controversy, and properly takes no sides.


Now we come to a true horror:
after several hundred years of great European aestheticians writing marvelously in the major European languages there comes
that sorry excuse for a critic,
Lee Siegel
(I sort of see him deriving from Perth Amboy)
interjects himself between
a great text & the reader
Lee Siegel may snark to his heart's delight, however the editor of
The NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
has a responsibility to its readers and to the book under review that
prohibits anything of the kind
especially in this instance where
NO-MAN'S BAY
comes with very considerable European track record of a serious reception. With NO-MAN'S BAY
- if not already with
THE REPETITION -
Handke enters the ranks of major European writers, Gottfried Keller, Eichendorf, Stifter Goethe, Flaubert.
Is the
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
so parochial as to ignore the context, Lee Siegel's editor so lazy as to fail to double check his review?
A shame a great shame was here committed
Lee Siegel is as lucky as David Price Jones & a few others that we didn't meet in the Chihuahua desert in the late 80s when I carried side arms and slew his likes to feed the vultures looking for traces of Ambrose Bierce!

Here see
WILLIAM GASS
and here is my take on the book
http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/my-year-in-no-mans-bay-niemandsbuch-t.html
Now come reports of the Comedie Francaise
dropping the ART OF ASKING because of Handke's appearance at the Milosevic funeral...See
http://www.swans.com/library/art12/ga209.html
for a fine account of this.
The Heinrich Heine prize controversy is along the same line.

A nice intervew with Deborah Solomon in the Magazine

We come to Neil Gordon's idiotic non-response to
CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS
What I mentioned previously about bullshitter Lee Siegel applies doubly to Gordon.
http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/2007/08/ny-times-murders-handke-once-again.html
It appears old friend Conroy, teaching writing at Iowa, told the idiot to head to the East Coast!

Many people feel that the last 100 page of SIERRA DEL GREDOES
is the greatest ending ever written, this still fan of the Molly Bloom section of Ulysses would have to agree that it's at least a tie between Handke & Joyce.

http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-long-piece-on-crossing-sierra-del.html

News of the Austrian State buying a part of the Handke archive,
but not of the German archive, buying the other half.
Handke confesses to Mueller that
he's become a capitalist... and a generous angel to writers and an enclave in the Kosovo he is.

 What is called “a revival” of
OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE
which, actually, had never been done
officially in New York, but by me with my little troupe & at the HB Studio.

A London performance of HOUR.

Joel Agee
reviews
DON JUAN
and misses a few beats along the way.

James Ostreicher reviews
Philip Glass Opera based
on Handke's
TRACES OF THE LOST

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/arts/music/philip-glasss-spuren-der-verirrten-has-debut-in-linz.html

NO MENTION OF THE MUEHLHEIM PRIZE
in 2013
the biggest prize in German theater
No mention of the Ibsen Prize in 2014
the Nobel prize for theatrical
achievement, not under your
watch, Ms. Mattoon
that is aclutter with no end of junk.

Not that the NY Times
is exclusively responsible for the by and large catastrophic Handke reception in the United States

http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/2010/07/catastrophic-handke-reception-in-united.html

There is the ganging up on Handke for his different take on the disintegration of the 2nd Yugoslave Federation
every one wants him to say the same thing they are saying!

For those who are interested here is a link to no end of material on the matter:
http://handke-yugo.blogspot.com/2010/05/lead-page-periodically-updated_10.html

I spent at least one year during the past 20 researching every aspect of that matter.

There's Mr. Wilson's
AMERICAN SCHOLAR
berating Handke for being influenced by Robbe-Grillet during his early phase and the writer isn't even aware of the one title – DER HAUSIERER- where Handke can be said to have found aspects useful of the Nouveau Roman – more interesting might have been to demonstrate – if that can be done – how Handke has absorbed influences – starting with the modernist inventions of the Wiener Gruppe to the Surrealists and made them his own, fused them into his activist classical style

There's Robert Silver's
NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
Bob Silver en espcial
might have know better
http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/2009/12/letter-to-robert-silvers-ny-review-of.html
since he initially published some valuable takes by Michael Wood & Frank Kermode on the early Handke which ought to have alerted him that J.L. Marcus was … what? All wet when he pretended to be able to evaluate the work? No end of harm came from this review to which Silvers refused to run a reply.

Even now
20 years after the inception of the Handke/ Serbia controversy
there are ignorant assholes like Leland Delaruntaye
who have nothing better to do than call Handke an asshole
in the London Review of Books
http://handke-yugo.blogspot.com/2014/05/durantayes-infamy.html
As I mentioned previously, country bupmkin literary genius Handke in his early days came across, socially, as an arrogant jerk. He's also a self-admitted schizophrenic, a “mama's boy” and as “cold as a salamander” when he works & you make the mistake of moving in with him – yes, in some matters he definitely splits. However, not when it comes to his home turf, Yugoslavia.
What in God's name overcame such a majority of U.S. innelectuals to make life easy for their conscience in the 90s and, like Roger Cohen
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/22/magazine/slobo-was-here.html
make Serbia & Milosevics exclusively responsible not only for such a complex event as the disintegration of the 2nd Federation but Serbia for the crimes committed by each and every nationalistic tribe & some independent operators? How about also blaming those who wage economic warfare!
Is it just that U.S. imperialism and the desire to interfere in every part of the world
- what other country interferes everywhere & like the NY Times editorial pages, has advice to spare for governments everywhere?
is endemic not just to the obvious imperialists but now infests the so-called thinkers – pret a porter innelectuals who of course don't think at all but gang up like McCarthyites & witch hunters: instead of say, repairing the damage the United States has done indigenously and abroad? Oh God forbid that a great Balkan Expert like Salman Rushdie would do anything of the kind, or his ilk. I happen to continue to love Susan Sontag too much for some of her essay work not to be able to forgive her. Not the rest of these humanity hyenas – oh how the milk of human kindness has soured in the past 75 years since it became propagandistically instrumentalized.

But if you want to go back to the very start of Handke publication in this country, it is I who bear responsibility for allowing myself to be cherry picked by a big crook like Roger Straus – who would have known that he was skating on the edge of bankruptcy all those years but for Boris Kachka's F.S.G. study HOTHOUSE -
and, thus, bring Handke to the wrong publisher (with Susan Sontag's assistance),
and I would not have if I had been enthused when Aaron Asher, then the editor in chief at Viking, showed me a set of galleys of the attack on the Warren Report when I had asked Viking for a job.
There it is, that is
“the maggot in the meat.”
At least I ought to have been enthusiastic about the money that such a book would generate.

The situation is the following:
The year is 1966, I am now married and it is calming, but I don't just want to just translate and scout -
here the link to who I am at that point in my literary life:
and there are some
German authors I very much want to see published: Nelly Sachs, Hans Erich Nossack, Christa Wolf. I've already placed several – Peter Weiss & Peter Bichsel with Seymour Lawrence at Atlantic Monthly Press for whom I scouted a year in Germany. I am the Suhrkamp scout in the USA. Meanwhile I've translated three Hesse novels &
Edgar Hilsenrath's NIGHT, a Musil novella,
I have a contract with Viking for the biography of a conspirator against Hitler – the perfect subject for the child of 20th of July survivors & a grandfather who might have poisoned Hitler over lunch instead of making fun of him & surviving four different concentration camps. I have a darling editor in Alan Williams. I befriend Aaron as editor for friend Conroy's STOP TIME.
I myself have started to scratch away at a book, SCREEN MEMORIES, whose last draft I am only completing now, and Aaron finds the material fascinating – but I am glad I waited it out for the needed psychoanalysis. And I think Viking might be the right place for someone who wants a niche for books translated from the German, for me, personally, it is a way of not losing the better part my origins.
Already in 1960 in Alaska I could read in the New York Times of troops training in Guatemala for what would become known as the “Bay of Pigs.”
After the war criminal - neither
whose charisma nor fascist refrain “do for your country...” did much for me,
nor any of the Kennedies - especially Bobby of the House Unamerican Committee: yes,
after the War Criminal President
bungles the Bay of Pigs
he was, as far as I was concerned,
a walking dead man: CIA, the Mob, Castro... and it turns out to have been just a lone wolf.
I was on a balcony at Frank Conroy's at the upper West Side when the news of the infamy reached me, I was at Frank's place in Brooklyn Heights, with Wilfred Sheed, when news of the assassination reached us. I was shocked, but not all that surprised, and so an attack on the Warren report was not going to get my juices flowing. But my lack of interest certainly manifested a lack of the requisite commercial instinct – which I possessed in other instances. I was sure, I told Roger Straus, when we signed the ten book Hesse contract that he would make millions. I was developing a keen sense that that luxury known as trade publishing was founded on money.
My relationship with Farrar, Straus & their eventual disastrous mispublishing of Handke:

1: Straus' interruption of the publication of Handke work for seven years in the 80s

2: Their turning down what Handke judged at the time to be the best translation he ever saw, mine of
WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
and all further plays despite KASPAR AND OTHER PLAYS
then being in its tenth printing
& the second volume
RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE & OTHER PLAYS
doing very well,
Steve Wasserman, I gathered from an e-mail exchange of a few years past, who was running the F.S.G. subsidiary Hill & Wang where the plays had been shoved,
bears some responsibility for that huge misjudgment.

3: The current, now conglomerate - Holzbrink - owned F.S.G., current failure to publish a single Handke title the past five years, turning down great work like
the novel KALI (The Saltworks)
THE CUCKOOS OF VELICA HOCA (I don't know of a single writer in English who can do an intimate reportage of a place of that kind)
of the novel/play STORM STILL
FSG making the major mistake of allowing the wonderful but entirely overtaxed translator
Krishna Winston as their advisor in the matter,
who has been unable to complete
MORAVIAN NIGHTS
since its publication seven years ago in Germany -
can be perused in the requisite dirty ratstail manner in greater detail via this link.

http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2015/04/summa-farrar-straus-roloff.html

It is not that long ago that Handke couldn't buy but a rare halfway intelligent review in Krautland. Currently, a kind of diametrical opposite holds true: his work is besieged by uncritical acclaim by the likes of idiots like Siegrid Loeffler or Lothar Struck (who also blogs under the name Gregor Keuschnig, thus assuming the name of a Handke surrogate in several Handke novels) & who might know better since at he was my German editor for
DEM HANDKE AUF DIE SCHLICHE

http://www.van.at/see/mike/index.htm

which itself needs revising, also in light of
Malte Herwig's in some respects devastating revelations in his

MEISTER DER DÄMMERUNG"


http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/2010/12/full-length-review-of-herwigs-handke.html

==================

Immediately below you will find the link to material related to the first English language premiere of a Peter Handke play
in 20 + years -
THE BEAUTTIFUL DAYS IN ARANJUEZ

in the hope that the NY TIMES and its reviewers might not miss the opportunity and get the reception all wrong – I gladly send Scott Abbott's & my text

production of the Zejlko Dukic 
directed
THE BEAUTTIFUL DAYS IN ARANJUEZ as translated
by Michael Roloff
with Scott Abbot.  
​ 


as it has so often disastrously over the past fifty years.
I am pessimistic that you have anyone on staff who can do justice to ARANJUEZ & most of the other later Handke plays. Mr. Brantly, that fan of Wendy Wasserstein, would certainly not seem not to be.



==============

I have two suggestions for improvement: a kind of ombuds-person who double-checks the kind of reviews that I found so objectionable, the Price-Jones, the Siegel, the Neil Gordon, the Barnes - that is, of books by major publishers that arrive at the review with a pedigree.

And: the NEW YORK TIMES needs
at least one full-time European cultural reporter & at least one for the rest of the world, it will be worth it for the INTERNATIONAL EDITION,
plus listings.

Very truly yours,
Michael Roloff


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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html

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