Saturday, October 31, 2015


Simply put, “fiction” of all kinds creates a world of its own that stands in a relationship we have to the world outside that world; this holds true for works as different as DON QUIXOTE and GONE WITH THE WIND, fairy tales such as Guenter Grass TIN DRUM & CAT & MOUSE and formalistic, linguistically playful prose works, say, Peter Weiss THE SHADOW OF THE BODY OF THE COACHMAN. Once a work of that kind, however, makes truth claims as to the so hungered for empirical factual truthfulness outside its linguistic confines it enters a world where it becomes uncertain what a “fact” - “Nothing but the facts, Ma'am” - is but for a kernel & aura of interpretation. All such discussions, at least since Capote's IN COLD BLOOD, point to an audience's great fear that “the real is slippjng away between its fingers, as indeed it is, and that by clutching “facts” its tenuous grasp might be reconfirmed. That is a condition of the spiritual state of the political economy & how it produces and advertises itself as it creates a kind of permanent as if state in which one disaster after the other erupts among the somnambulists and which state I don't think either fiction or semi-non-fiction can do much about but perhaps address and describe. It is no wonder that by and large pleasant and unpleasant lies, as the subject may wish prefer to be believed.

[I cannot imagine writing or reading novels about contemporary, contentious figures where verisimilitude is bound to be questioned. Biography would seem to be sufficiently difficult. Yet there are folks who feel they saw the Kennedy assassination because they saw a filmic re=enactment. I think products like that are the kind of detritus that eventuates in a kind of 2ndorder of the mythic. There is obviously a market for that, a market in minds that prefer to be fed in that fashion. The mythic that then has truth value, however, how is that to be arrived at, or even desired?  

Friday, October 09, 2015


this was
 is meant to be, in transfigured/ transmogrified form, a big chapter shaft into the depths of the city in DARLINGS & MONSTERS 
 this was one of the three big shafts that led to the fissioning heart of 
the city.


With Tay Hohoff, the editor of TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD in the news for guiding Harper Lee to the successful version, perhaps the extra-ordinary story of the editing and publication of Robert Kalich's The Handicapper
​ -​
​ -​
 is of interest.
​ I rough it out below.​

The story unfolds in a to be expected unusual fashion, and requires some background.
One afternoon in the late 1970s, I as publis
er of the forever 
 Urizen Books

receive a call from someone who identifies himself as Dick Kalich of the Kalich Organization. Mr. Kalich tells me that he happened to read the highly favorable Publisher's Weekly review
of a forthcoming Urizen Books novel, Michael Brodsky's Detour, which upon its publication won P.E.N.'s Hemingway Prize for the best novel published by a new writer.
This is where two important back stories need to be told to ground my tale.
One late afternoon, about a year prior to the Kalich call, Michael Brodsky show
 up at Urizen Books. Michael had received my address as a possible publisher of his work via Peter Handke,
​ whose work I introduced to this country and whose plays I translated,​
 and it was Patricia Highsmith whom he had happened to meet in Paris who had turned him over to Handke; and he arrived in our creaky, freight-elevatored offices not with just one novel, but a maroon leather carrying case
​ that barely held​
 five manuscripts.

Upon my telling 
 I'd get back to him in a week or so and his leaving, I opened his weighty satchel and took a look at the first page of each of a total of these five manuscript (just the first page!) and realized: this is it, the real thing, the raison d'etre for the existence of Urizen Books, an author on the order of a Beckett, it was merely a question which m.s. to publish first, and the rest in what order.

Here I could diverge into long story about how the book then got published, what special care I took with the design, the type setting and about Michael Brodsky, but, interesting as that is, the Handicapper story would go out focus.
The other important background element is how Publisher's Weekly had managed to publish such a brief glowing review of a challenging piece of writing, and the explanation for that is that P.W. had published nearly verbatim my own blurb. Now, how did I happen to know what kind of blurb P.W. might publish? The answer to that puzzle is that, upon returning broke from the year 1964 abroad, my friend the
Trotzkyite novelist Daniel (Danny
 Gordon, who was in charge of the Columbia Pictures scouting office in N.Y., had given me a job as one of their outside readers of galleys that P.W. supplied. Columbia Picture's interest was to have first dibs on properties that might make interesting films - the C.P. reading office provided the home office in Hollywood with a story outline
​ written by the likes of me​
, in the present movie tense, and
 in exchange
​ for the galleys,​
 P.W. with an evaluation of the title that P.W. then boiled down a bit more into one of their all-important first reviews! Interesting and salvaging work it was for me until I managed to move out of the shoe-box I was living in at the Chelsea Hotel with a hunch it probably was time to hook up with a publisher, but no ambition to become a publisher myself.

I had no idea whether Michael Brodsky knew how to or was interested in writing screen plays or adaptations, but since he was working a lowly job for the Arthritis Foundation, he and his saintly French wife and newborn child needed the money, as did Urizen Books.
Thus I assented to Dick Kalich's question whether I would take a look at a book called TheHandicapper, and within the week the Kalich Organization, in the persons of the twins, Robert & Richard Kalich
 appeared at our offices lugging the Handicappeer manuscript in a three by three feet carton, Kleenex or Kotex or Charmin? I don't recall.

We talked a bit, the Organization indicated that it would finance the book's editing and publication. I said it would take me a few weeks to work my way through what I did not yet realize were the Augean stables. The pair departed, Becky Johnson, a young East Village film maker who did the Urizen publicity, mentioned that she did not like their sinister looks. As far as I was concerned, Dick, the future author of three art novels (1), looked like a kind of eternal sophomore enthusiast for literature and very eventually turned into an excellent friend and admirable writer. Bob, indeed, looked somewhat ominous
owerful, dark, there was someone who had seen and done things that marked him with serious experience; thus more interesting.
​ They were not identical twins, although married as of uterus.​

I looked at the many thousand pages of drafts of TheHandicapper and concluded that there was a book buried in the Charmin carton. Though the proposition to write a screenplay based on the book was years
​ off ​
I introduced Michael Brodsky to the Kaliches and I think he and Dick actually hit if off - Dick then used Michael, one of Kafka's true "hunger artists," as the model for the main character in his first
 the now famous and famously upsetting The Nihilst

The Kalich Organization and Urizen books made a deal and I spent the summer working with Bob at his penthouse terrace overlooking Central Park. The chief work consisted in getting Bob's great tale of how he, a once degenerate gambler, became a millionaire as the handicapperfor the Jewish mob that put "nickels" (5 k) and "dimes" on weekend playtime on college basketball, to dispense with endless iterations of the side-story of his romantic fights with a woman who had been his wife (where one with a few variants did the trick) and providing the book with the spine of
​ a​
 single major conflict between two major mob figures. None of that I would say was genius on my part, sensible straight forward editing, bringing the best parts of the book to the fore. I forget how much if any re-rewriting Bob had to do. I may have written a few passages to show him what was needed - meanwhile I had had one relationship that had experienced me what male female fights could be.

What became extra-ordinary was the way the financing of my and the firm
s work was accomplished. Say the book featured a dozen gamblers whose playtime consisted of putting a "nickel" or a "dime" on a particular college basketball weekend game. Abe was the most important and he subscribed a dime, that left a dime divided between 11 other gamblers; the most interesting moment was when a Jewelry dealer from nearby Canal Street brought a thousand dollars in cash in a brown paper bag to Urizen offices at 65 West Broadway.

Matters became even more interesting when I started to be taken along to the various characters - who now stepped out of the book as living and in one instance hugely fleshly persons; and the places they hung out at...

and my encou
tering Abe Costello's best Jewish friend. Robbie and I took one look at each other, he cased the folks who entered his brother's eatery, I suspect for being cops, and the look from the two scalpels he had for eyes shed the lean meat of my bones, I felt skeletal. I only saw Robbie once more in my life, at the swimming pool of the Beverly Hills hotel, trying to make sure he wouldn't spot me...

Urizen turned the book into its one and only set of bound galleys and at Frankfurt Book Fair tried to an auction, that went nowhere...
Advance of 3000 an amazing figure for anything but Shephard...
Kaliches want out... I go crazy at Un deux trois
Good cop bad cop
40,000 total for Urizen
 more than for any book we actually published..

Last t
ip to bookfair sitting next to the beautiful blonde Crown editor who had taken over from me...

Kalich death threats, her husband ascertained that no one in the mob would kill anyone to get The Handicaper publ
shed - which then became a Book of the Month Club alternate, and was sold to mass paperback.

Later Bob showed me two other manuscripts that again required Augean Stable work, one of which, A Twin Life, had stretches of extra-ordinary powerful writing, but from the West Coast I was unable to 

 get Bob to write the kind of opening the book needed, and regret not asking him to fly me to New York to work with him at his penthouse terrace to get that book right, which was eventually published by Kodansha in 

Sunday, September 27, 2015



A while back I found myself in conversation with certain departed friends & I realized that I had reached the stage of what I call

These conversations are
of prior ones,
instances take the form
of wanting to make amends
in the underlined instances
if you think of these conversations
in novelistic terms
could be days if not weeks long,
the German word
(flooding, breaching of dikes)
comes to mind.

One grim realization is to have reached the stage where I have a greater number of ghostly than living friends and people I was close to one way or another.
Excluded are family members.
Only a single truly hated is among the listed, the monstrous Roger Straus.
Too bad there's no Hell, sure'd like to run into him there
 while on my way to a stretch in limbo!




                 ​RICHARD POIRIER


                   ​RICHARD DILOFF​

​                   JEFFREY STEINBERG

                    LEO FELDSBERG​

​                    Dr.  Schwartz

                    Dr. Marc Vechsler​



​                  THEODOR ADORNO​





TOM BARRY (the Handke scholar)

The Most Painful, for Beauty to die in that Fashion,
incidentally or rather not: none were lovers, might have beens only
Lacey Fosburgh
Hannah Wilke


The  two pieces make obscenity seem like  child’s play, I scratch me head what all those court battles, all the fuss, say about Lady Slutterly & Ulysses were about! On the other hand, recalling the kind of sexuality of the kids I grew up amongst,  and Freud’s
 Lolita seemed anything but innocent at age 12, Humbert, the cherisher seemed peculiar. 

Being co- publisher of Urizen Book affored opportunity to publish, fifty years after its appearance in French,  George Batilles’s STORY OF THE EYE  to which a lover, a few years prior had introduced me, as well as to “Playing Bataille"

"Simone derives pleasure from inserting hard and soft-boiled eggs for her vaginal and anal stimulation; she also experiences considerable enjoyment from the viscosity of various liquids”  being the least of Bataille’s transgressions  compared to hiss concerted effort to  Ă‰pater,  if that is all it was, his Catholicsm, if you follow the games into darker regions 

  I can’t decide whether anything erotic is ever obscene, as war most  certainly is and its mongers,  there was a lot of innocent “playing Bataille” downtown during the 70s before matters there, too, got darker.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

franzen a david brooks type writer, stinker prose

Franzen is a Pundit dissembling as a novelist.

Here the link to the NY Times Book Review review which strikes me as sensible as compared to the others I have read, the Guardian's
 was worth reading though it did not give a clear idea of the book as Colm Tobin does. The three excerpts re-inforce my judgment Franzen is a Pundit dissembling as a novelist.

The church on Siegfeldstrasse was open to anyone who embarrassed the Republic, and Andreas Wolf was so much of an embarrassment that he actually resided there, in the basement of the rectory, but unlike the others—the true Christian believers, the friends of the Earth, the misfits who defended human rights or didn’t want to fight in World War III—he was no less an embarrassment to himself.
For Andreas, the most achievedly totalitarian thing about the Republic was its ridiculousness. It was true that people who tried to cross the death strip were unridiculously shot, but to him this was more like an oddity of geometry, a discontinuity between Eastern flatness and Western three-dimensionality that you had to assume to make the math work. As long as you avoided the border, the worst that could happen was that you’d be spied on and picked up and interrogated, do prison time and have your life wrecked. However inconvenient this might be for the individual, it was leavened by the silliness of the larger apparatus—the risible language of “class enemy” and “counter-revolutionary elements,” the absurd devotion to evidentiary protocol. The authorities would never just dictate your confession or denunciation and force or forge your signature. There had to be photos and recordings, scrupulously referenced dossiers, invocations of democratically enacted laws. The Republic was heartbreakinglyGerman in its striving to be logically consistent and do things right. It was like the most earnest of little boys, trying to impress and outdo its Soviet father. It was even loath to falsify election returns. And mostly out of fear, but maybe also out of pity for that little boy, who believed in socialism the way children in the West believed in a flying Christkind who lit the candles on the Christmas tree and left presents underneath it, the people all went to the polls and voted for the Party. Even the dissidents spoke the language of reform, not overthrow. Everyday life was merely constrained, not tragically terrible. (Olympic bronze was the Berliner Zeitungs idea of calamity.) And so Andreas, whose embarrassment it was to be the megalomaniacal antithesis of a dictatorship too ridiculous to be worthy of megalomania, kept his distance from the other misfits hiding behind the church’s skirts. They disappointed him aesthetically, they offended his sense of specialness, and they wouldn’t have trusted him anyway. He performed his Siegfeldstrasse ironies privately.

In the heart of the heart of the country, Purity “Pip” Tyler was on her knees in front of a toilet, sifting through the soggy logs of her own fecal matter, wishing she could be anywhere else, doing anything else, particularly birdwatching. Like her great grandparents, who had moved to the Midwest a century earlier in search of cheap, arable land and found themselves nearly stamped out of existence by The Depression, Pip fashioned herself an amateur ornithologist. In her earliest memories, power lines sagged into smiles beneath the many tiny weights of sparrows, backfiring trucks sent a flock of warblers winding into the sky. In her family, birdwatching was tradition. Her great grandparents, once they’d somewhat established themselves in Hoover’s America, spent weekends spying wrens in Appalachia. Her grandparents took bus tours down the Pacific Coast, searching, her own mother and father spent every summer crisscrossing New England in a Winnebago, their enormous binoculars trained on the trees. Like all children unwittingly do, she had inherited other,

Purity in Oakland MONDAY "Oh pussycat, I'm so glad to hear your voice," the girl's mother said on the telephone. "My body is betraying me again. Sometimes I think my life is nothing but one long process of bodily betrayal." "Isn't that everybody's life?" the girl, Pip, said. She'd taken to calling her mother midway through her lunch break at Renewable Solutions. It brought her some relief from the feeling that she wasn't suited for her job, that she had a job that nobody could be suited for, or that she was a person unsuited for any kind of job; and then, after twenty minutes, she could honestly say that she needed to get back to work. 


Thursday, August 13, 2015



The day upon reaching the evidently momentous de to follow my ABC of Reading guide (amidst the swirl of the incipient spooky cabin fever orgy on Chena Ridge) I sold the Nash Ambassador, entrusted Mom + Pop, at fire fighters camp on Airport Road, with my fire arms - a 30/30 Mustang rifle, a generic double-barrel shot gun & a 22 long, 10 shot clip, pistol (to dispense of pests such as camp robber blue jays) - I was thinking of returning for a second time around the following spring​; transported myself the short distance to Fairbanks airport and took a first plane to the West Coast, to Seattle it was, a first - and so forewent the fantasied ultra-smooth comfy drive on squeaky, densely packed snow on the forever memorably dusty gravely Al-Can (Trans-Alaskan-Canadian highway) stuck behind a lumber truck. In Seattle a yellow station wagon needed to return to its kennel, San Francisco. I picked up some slightly ominous hitchhikers along the coast, in Oregon, and in San Francisco shacked up with a mutual acquaintance of Michael Miller's and mine, the sexually adventurous Susan Blodgett (downstairs neighbors commented on how hard the floor boards had creaked) - finally to get laid in San Francisco called for a celebration after two years regressing to wrestling, with (a) a hot Mormon girl (whose purpose in life aimed to be "a lady") of forever moist girdle memory & and (b) Mary Swift, who had the perfect all-American 50s body and face, a cutout from a magazine - I kept being astounded that she actually existed whenever she materialized: Mary was not just beautiful, in the perfect generic American magazine movie standard way of the time, but bright, an English major (I had branched out from the Modern Language Department), Fran McCullough, who later became an editor at Harper & Row was a mutual friend - talking would have been easier if we'd got sex out of the way, got over that hump, if her so overt sexuality had been acted out - but, who knows, if we had started to fuck we might have never stopped, that happened, too!
I also had one more date with the girl from Mills College whom I should have married and who wanted me so much, but was forever getting over a case of the dreaded Mono. I ghad entirely resisted during my Stanford teaching days the overtures of the many infinitely flirtatious pretty darling students of mine, but for a single astonishingly well-recalled instance, another "Wild Palms" moment barely averted, because I hesitated when Ms. Davis, who had gone soft on reading Sandro, whether to roll with her into Jean Gosselin's bed - Jean gave me his two room apartment when I was on duty and he was not about. From passion, it would turn out, I'd invariably turn to passion for work, a matter during which the twain can then diverge.
I imagine I said my goodbyes to life-long friend and future author, my Hegel professor, Kurt Mueller Vollmer, and darling Ph.D. candidate, the priestly Jean Gosselin who continued to tend his dorm in Menlo Park Jr. College.
As it was traded in I bought a two-year-old four-door Ford - low mileage but, in retrospect, suspiciously clean crankcase oil - loaded two book and m.s. filled steamer trunks & headed for Aspen, Colorado: Gus's school days, too, had ended as, it turned out, had his marriage, to terrific Janice, first of many wives - I have no idea why Gus was in Aspen, he was not a skier, and he & I headed to Denver to Gus's new woman and there I sought my damnedest to get her best friend - whose purpose in life was to bring "the dance to the Rockies" - into bed. I had been on a sexual roll as of the end of my fire-fighting days in mid-August, until Denver!
In Hill City, Kansas the lovely 1958 Ford began to spew clouds of blue: it needed a ring job, that was all, and the mechanic who towed us refunded the $ 900 that I had paid for it a short while back, a used Ford of my kind was worth more in Kansas than in Frisco, and shipped my steamer trunks to me in New York. I left with a favorable impression of Kansans.
Hill City was located proximate the murders of Capote's In Cold Blood, that had occurred about the same time that Gus and I traveled through these parts and that had not yet been solved I don't think, and on publication of the book - comparing its landscape description to what I recalled - I realized that Capote had failed to note the different shades of brown and tawn and the lands' undulations which could not be described as flat. Gullies. Gulches. Hilltops, gentle ones.
Carless, we grabbed a bus that took what could be described as a Backgammon kind of trip: back and forth and up and down Kansas, up to the South Dakota border, a few miles east and back down to New Mexico - apparently the same little town every 25 miles same same church, same drug store, same courthouse same soda fountains except how they were configured with respect to each other - and what kinds of stacks added up - as far as the St. Louis part of Kansas. There we grabbed an Electra, a turbo-prop of the era with a high crash rate, as we nearly did at La Guardia as the plane descended at such a dangerous askew its right wing tip nearly scraped the tarmac.
Gus got along fine with the girls at the Bryn Mawr Haverford halfway graduation career fortress, at 101 West 85th, corner and Columbus Avenue - marvelous Liz Radin, whom if I'd been as sensible as I am now (have I really become sensible?), I would have married at the drop of nearly anything, since, but for feathers, things drop at a Newtownian rate.
Frank and Patty were living high up a new city-built highrise complex, with balconies, at Amsterdam Avenue, ten blocks north. Frank said he didn't like Gus, not that he specified why, Gus was sharp funny, a delight, a bit emphatic perhaps, but in the company of intelligent men discussing books he was a lot of fun - Frank's likes and dislikes ctd. mysterious until I realized about ten years ago that his nervous system, like Handke's, was autistically challenged. Like Handke he was in some respects, but by no means in every respect, truly different.
We were discussing the then just published Updike's Rabbit Run. I myself preferred Poorhouse Fair, can't say that I was really interested in the lives of the Rabbits of this world, yes so it was no doubt, but also so what. Anxious Angstrom mediocrity. Did Updike have anything all that special? Not that I could see. Very precious. Tended to over-write. Turned out to write really well about art.
During one of Frank's and my regressive - forever transitional - dive drives down to the Bryn Mawr-Haverford past, that also harbored buddies, Frank started an affair with an amazingly Brigit Bardot nubile blonde (awfully soon for being just married I thought, but even while engaged Frank had played around, disloyalty was to be one of his several Achilles heels.) Yet this affair was serious, and the girl could be taken seriously, and, much as I liked Patty I can be said to have played along by being Frank's foil: when the girl came to N.Y. I pretended that she'd come to see me who had hooked up with someone whose Trotzkyite novelist father, Dannie Gordon, interested me far more (the first, I think, of quite a few instances where I cared much more for the parents than the girl!) and Judy, too, was eminently marriageable, but I was not in love, it was to be some years before amorous ardors revivified from heart break ashes. Bryn Mawr girls were as promiscuous as the men, until they married, sometimes forever. Michael Miller & I both sought to bed beautiful Daphne of the Daphne face and truck-drivers bod, no such luck! Daphne was a fried of Frank's who I don't think bedded her either, or of Patty's, she derived from the seven sister, and evidently had the kind of face that fits the song "The First Time I saw your face." I kept running into men who had been smitten, Werner Linz, boss of mine at Continuum-Crossroad Seabury Press, Gene Lichtenstein, friend and editor of the L.A. Jewish Journal, who mentioned that Daphne had been "shrunk" so much she had become boring. But she sure had got around a lot, too.

I had to lend Gus the money to get back to Denver, and he gave me a small precious Buddha for a token. I did not cash the token for about 35 years when desperate in Mexico. Gus and Kurt were friends who would then come crash with me once I lived the loft life in downtown Manhattan in the 70s.
In Philadelphia I met a Bill Beeson who was starting a magazine called Metamorphosis, and I joined him and, after meeting Michael Lebeck via fellow Musil scholar Burton Pike, Michael's Hillsboro Press became Metamorphosis publisher. Fred Jameson, who & I had become friends in Berlin, became a fellow editor and it puzzles me why I didn't bring in Frank? Beats me, he was such a good editor, too! I can't say that I was hogging the position; though Beeson faded quickly, Metamorphosis published lots of things of Michael's friends. Frank and Michael Lebeck, best as I know, met just once, as best men when I wed my first wife: half the right wife in being an artist & as hard-working as I & half entirely wrong in being socially entirely inept & not interested in my writer friends whereas I liked painters just fine.
Jameson had the designer Ralph Coburn do a marvelous modernist Bauhaus design, but I do not recall editorial contributions of his or from his interesting friends. Michael Miller brought in no end of West Coast poets. Frank, who and Patty both lived on stipends, was working on an eventually stillborn novel about a priest, but the Metamorphosis editors wanted no part of it & there was no part I liked sufficiently to be highhanded, as I can or did at moments when I had complete confidence in my editorial judgment. Did Patty teach? Frank and Patty then went to the U.K. for a few years before settling in Brooklyn Heights with their first son (whom Patty, whose mother was the head of Planned Parenthood, had decided to have without consulting her husband - was something that Frank then welcomed, which birth got him to get cracking on Stoptime). Perhaps the U.K. years was why I didn't ask Frank? But that doesn't make sense either & does not explain why I didn't ask him.
The 10 K I had saved for being unable to spend it in the bush lasted only so long and I drifted into all kinds of back office work: Reader of German books for a variety of publisher - which is how I started to get up to snuff on then contemporary German literature; translation doctor, Uwe Johnson's Third Book About Achim;, Alexander Kluge's Lebenslaeufe.
I did work for Grove Press, McGraw-Hill; Braziller, translating & reading and reading for his book clubs), Putnams (Tom Wallace) and Atlantic Monthly Press. The latter, via editor in chief Sam Lawrence, led to my scouting for Atlantic for a year - 1964 - in Germany & then getting Atlantic to publish Peter Weiss and Peter Bichsel's prose. (Amazing that Atheneum, who had a great success with Marat/ Sade, then did not jump on the prose - but that was what American publishing of foreign authors was like, I began to realize: amateur time.)
On my return from Europe on the France in December 1964 Frank suggeseted we get back together at a place called Elains's
and Elains's certainly added a dimension to my N.Y. life. Not only did I make certain life-long or nearly life-long friend, Paul Sylbert, Bruce Jay Friedman, Paul Desmond and Jerry Leiber (I already knew Fred Seidel- as of Senior year ( and we hit it off: I described to him Brecht's notion of rhymeless arythmic poetics, I published a hunk from his first book FINAL SOLUTIONS in Metamorphosis; Fred was intrigued by my translations from Handke's INNERWORLD; I shared his relationship to Lowell's work - the Shako was the first poem I dismembered, already as a senior at Oakwood; we did a party for Peter Weiss during my "social literary" phase, but then drifted apart as I moved to downtown Tribeca and started Urizen Books.), who became authors, but a home away from home that would feed me while I lived uptown.
That first evening at Elaine's I brought along the budding love affair from the France, a willowy stunning blonde, Christine Doudna, the daughter of a Lawrence Kansas professor, who if I'd not been totally broke and could barely afford the shoebox in the Chelsea Hotel, I would have had living with me. Frank, too, danced with her at Elaine's and then joined us in our way downtown cab - or his Jaguar? - which I thought he would take on to Brooklyn. But no, he followed us to my shoebox & in the gentlest possible way I turned him in the opposite directions a few paces before we reached my door. He mentioned that he thought Christine would make love to him, too, as I expect the so passive Christine would have, but I was not yet in the kind of sharing state of mind I would be during my Tribeca days. Frank and I then shared a number of women, unwittingly until witted, one knowingly. It was an instance that requires as accompaniment the Rolling Stones Mick Jagger singing about "Puerto Rican girls" - however the two that we picked up in Frank's Jaguar as they had stopped at a traffic light on their respective scooters were Philippine. We then both dated the prettier of the two, and there was the time as I was picking her up at her upper Westside digs and was being kept waiting outside for an unconscionable length of time Frank Conroy, it turned out, was getting dressed and stashed in a closet, or slipped out the back door. Eventually we all grew up, in Frank's case it took Patty filing for divorce and his having to leave for Nantucket and terrified of ever being unfaithful again to a woman he truly loved- see the story Gossip in Midair.
One reason I married my first wife was to allay her seemingly infinite jealousy upon my spotting a pretty girl - and I could be said to spot a pretty girl a mile away! Once we were married, however, the ring had not its wished for magical effect; I had to avert my eyes, and started to schielen, squint, and I made Katarina do a painting for Elaine's of a mouth on a telephone - a la Lindner - hers, calling to ask whether I was there. I was entirely faithful if only so as not to hurt her, but also scared as I had been of my governess (all entirely in my head as I was eventually forced to admit, projections) until a glamorous JezebelI induced me into an affair, and I left the emasculating marriage prison, what did Katarina say, but: "Oh, just another woman," and was quite ready for an affair with boss Siegfried Unseld. When I was being fattened for the kill, watching t.v. over delicious meal, as Katarina wanted a child, my body went on strike, and I realized that I did not want to be a captive of such a marriage, not a captive of any kind. The emasculating governess effect - of which I had been entirely unaware since I had not lived with a woman since those childhood days - had taken hold.
The re-appearance of Metamorphosis author Michael Locascio (another ghost now) from San Miguel d'Allende and his hippie troupe where they had spent time with "The Hammer" also helped break the marriage spell, and I used the troupe to do the first performances of my translations of Handke plays.

Returning nearly entirely broke from a year in Europe during which I had translated three Hesse novels and been paid a pittance scouting for Sam Lawrence, Danny Gordon, who was in charge of a section of  Columbia Pictures in NY that read book galleys in its search for film stories, proved a savior in getting me a where I'd be paid anywhere from $ 25 to $ 75, depending on the size of the book galleys, and turn in a story outline, in the present movie tense, and a book evaluation. The evaluation went to the supplier of the galleys: Publisher's Weekly who saved themselves what it cost Columbia to employ a stable of readers. This would prove immensely useful in my future as editor and publisher, since I learned how the Columbia readers worked and what Publisher's Weekly did with the book reports, how it boiled them down, time that I tried to save Publisher's Weekly when my time came by providing consise favorable advance reviews that were nearly immediately publishable. Aside reading my eyes out in the shoebox, its previous resident, one Lane Dunlop had left behind, in a huge drawer beneath the window seat, a trove of 19th century British lit from the NY public library, and a host of French surrealism. I got in touch with Lane, we became friends, and after I left Michael Lebeck's apartment at 18th and 8th Avenu that I inherited upon Michael moving in with the Sufi sect, Lane inherited that apartment, who switched from translating from the French to Japanese.

The marriage had been good for work, I could work until all hours in the night because so did perfectionist Katarina for her Harper's Bazaar editors who of course had to find one or the other minutiae to object to if they did not want to make themselves superfluous.

The scouting year 1964 began auspiciously with a flight on Air Icelandic, via Teflavik, to Luxembourg - the then cheapest way - midway to Iceland an Icelandic sheep who pretended to be a stewardess asked if I'd spend a week with her in her pen. The temptation was great and I suggested that we talk about in the powder room during her next break. The first of two Iceland sheep that year, the second and I picked each other up walking in London.

Through Michael Lebeck I had met Robert Phelps, the actual founder of Grove Press (when he lived on Grove Street in the Village), which he sold to Barney Rossett. Robert had a wide- ranging taste in esoteric American and British literature, Brigid Brophy & Rainer Heppenstahl come to mind, close friend of Glenway Wescott, my Jamesian side cherishes his essays. The Phelps friendship was as good as enrolling in the New School, where Robert taught, a Collette specialist he was too, who did a lot of anthologizing, also for Farrar, Straus, and who introduced me to Louise Bogan who needed someone who translated from German to collaborate with her on an Ernst Juenger text. Although I am scarcely a Juenger fan, translating with Louise was an immense pleasure. That work as well as my translation of Musil's great novella The Portuguese Wife led to a three book Hesse translation contract with Harper & Row, editor Roger Klein.
There were moments when the hands to mouth existence, the source of income from all these small checks had started to get to me & I gave serious thought to a full-time regular kind of job. I applied for a copy-editing job at Prentice-Hall, across the river in New Jersey, and even now couldn't or shouldn't get a copy editing job since I need a copy editor for my own work, but became a good line editor & structurer of books (The Handicapper, etc) who made amazing sums doing that kind of work.
One such attempt to get a regular kind of job had the most amusing result. I applied to Aviation Weekly as a writer, and absolutely darling people really liked me, but at the final moment asked if that was what I really wanted to do, go from one unveiling of a new plane or airport to another, it was going to be a costly process to train me in this specialty. I liked these very nice people far too much to lie to them and draw a good salary for some months before dropping out.
However, during that time Dear Old Dad was flying high again and had a high-flying Wall Street partner's chauffeur drive me and Dear Old Dad to the airport, and me back to the big city.
After I had seen my father off and returned to the Rolls-Royce that was parked by, say, the Air Canada curb, what if my Aviation Weekly darlings don't happen to be getting out of a car that has just parked behind the Rolls as I am stepping back in, and wave hello to their dropped jaws. I actually ought to have called them the next day & explained, to disabuse of whatever puzzlement the sight of me had introduced. After retiring as the head of RCA International, Canada, where he had sold huge micro-wave relay stations all over the world, my father had a firm called RKS Consultants. He certainly had recouped from the debacle with Haile Elassi's son.

I hooked up with a group of people at Collier MacMillan who planned to bring the highest level criticism and philosophy to the drugstores of America! And - say twenty years later - read most of Freud the first time in entirety in those Phillip Rief edited paperback editions - the quality paperback impulse, to bring intellectual and reading to the masses at affordable prices was very powerful & I realized had been initiated during the war, not just with Penguin paperbacks as the first English language publisher of that kind, but with oddly sideway length-shaped Army paperbacks (with garish covers) I recalled from late 40s U.S. occupation. I did a lot of reading of German scholarly books for MacMillan and a member of that group - Villacana, who taught at Columbia - brought a woman to a party of mine the only one ever with whom I would have gone into the Sierra Maestre, because she had been, and looked the part, and still in the garb: powerful, wide-bodied, like some of the Inuits I had worked with in Alaska. (The progeny of "seven sisters" were entirely useless in that respect and - upon marrying a German girl - I had despaired of them, poor girls in the ghetto of their up-bringing, as were all middle class men, working class with union affiliation was another matter; not too much of that in publishing then, or now.
But for my inability to endure high temperatures, my revolutionary impulses were not going to be lived out in the tropics, the Brooks Range would have been fine, but the only dictator monopolists in that region were bears; and, later, suffering the wages of the Mexican amoeba
I realized that heat plus beasties would not have made me a good Che companion in Bolivia. My fantasy revolution was based on reading Victor Shklovsky's Sentimental Journey - an account of being a commissar during the wars following the October revolution while engaged with literature, a double-life if ever there was one. - The Cuban revolution had of course already succeeded, and I recall - one of those infinitely memorable moments - happening to be on the balcony of Frank and Patty's apartment - hearing of the infamy of the Bay of Pigs of whose preparations the NY Times had alerted me in Alaska where I managed to vote four times for JFK under the then prevailing register and vote system. Never again!
I was quite well versed in the English and German and Russian modernists of Pound's time, the French came within a few years. However, during that time, surprisingly, I didn't connect with the so-called New York School of poets - Lebeck had some minor Beat connections, Michael Miller's West Coast poets, whose work I read whenever I could. Kelly, Bard College come to mind, a few people that Gus knew, Duncan. But no Frank O'Hara. Not even via friendship with Ruth Landshoff York and her group, Lanford Wilson and Paul Foster, Kenward Elmslie.
If I had had money I would have spent at least a year in Paris, have made a grand tour and spent time in Spain & Italy & London, and have a far better education when I started to drift into publishing.
However, I had to earn my money and much as I may have read and even if I had not had certain huge gaps (the British 19th century novel, German Baroque, to mention only two) I was not going to make a living as a literary journalist: e.g. I spent a year reading everything of Max Frisch - liking his diaries best - for a review for Partisan of his Let My Name be Gantenbein, and didn't really catch on what a miserable self-persiflage that books was! But at the rate of overly conscientious time spent for those few thousand words: you get it. Editing, backing authors, getting books published was the going to be My Way.
The ABC decision in Alaska was made without initial practical considerations, was entirely based on inner necessity and interest, on who I was then. It was pretty much of a leap into the unknown – for which, looking back, I might have prepared myself, as I then did for trips to foreign countries: yet no matter how well prepared, some bugs will find you; unprepared it might be death.
Like many friends, initially we had wanted nothing to do with anything in corporate America, least of all public relations, advertising; the example of my unhappy pathos-drenched businessman father had instilled a horror of being in business. It then turned out that as publisher of Urizen Books it could also be a lot of fun, excluding the possibility that I then had the partner from hell.

That the world of culture would also be inhabited by monsters such as Wieland Schulz & Roger Straus came as a surprise.
Yet initially I got quite lucky once within about half a dozen years I was pretty much in the thick of things.

One matter I failed to do was to have “outs”, say in the event that Lebeck and I had a falling out. We had not a falling out, but within several years he fell away to join a Sufi sect and abandoned all his marvelous learning and early achievements & books and Metamorphosis. Had I noticed any particular weakness there? He had a mad Opheliaish sister who died a kind of suicide, he suddenly had a young little boy, pathetic Dolph, Dutch for a lover. I'd know what to say and do to intervene, and not just now - but there had been no notice. Eventuality I had the opportunity to ask Lebeck what he did at the sect, it was at the 7th Avenue Delicatessen & 57th Srtreet: he'd be "lifting rocks in his head" he said he and his Sufi sect did; rocks in the head indeed! - Perhaps the whole sect was a scam, that lived off its rich converts funds, I never took a close look at the head of it. When the last issue of Metamorphosis arrived from its Dutch printer I lacked the money to mail it out! Pound with all his hatred of money, if you look at the artists for whom he found support, was well-versed in the matter of fund-raising.
Many years later, after doing my analysis and contemplating newly found bi-sexual impulses I concluded that I probably would have been able to make love to Michael Lebeck if it could have kept him from joining the Sufi sect. I loved Michael, for sure, but can't say I was jealous of Dolph, merely alerted that there was a pathetic little boy in Michael. But if it would have taken love-making to show Michael how much I loved him I could have in that instance; well, yes, hugged and kissed, I don't know about the rest. None other comes to mind, can't think of any other male friend that needed that kind of reassurance! Yes, I once held Jerry Leiber while he was heaving after his second wife, the monstrous Barbara Rose, departed from that basket case, but Leiber, though he had his poet's side, was certainly anything but gay.
Now women! They it turned out needed loving all the time! And if you didn't...
I had a relative in publishing, George Aldor, uncle via marriage to aunt "Baby", who was with Praeger A friend of his at Random House. suggested I train as a salesman, I'd get to know both the business & the country. He was of course right in the way sensible people are always right.
By the time I attended the Gruppe 47 meeting at Princeton in 1966 I not only was pretty much in the thick of things but had a pretty good feel for the varieties of post world war II German literature, that of the Federal Republic, but also of the DDR, of Austrian avant garde that hooked up with pre-war experimentalism and Surrealism, and with Alps in the head Swiss kind & if only Aaron Asher had given me a job at Viking this by no meas over-confident, rather the opposite, cherry would not allowed himself to be picked by cherry picker Roger Straus, who'd find a way, sooner or later, to spit you out after he'd eaten the good meat. After a stint as Suhrkamp agent at Lants-Donadio Literary Agency (for all this, if interested see the resume @:

and the single really well-paid year in publishing, at McGraw-Hill, planning to found an American version of the edition suhrkamp, I managed to get quite a few fine books into print at Continuum & Urizen Books, under trying circumstances; and a number of translations of which I am indeed proud: the Nelly Sachs O THE CHIMNEYS my mourning work, Handke's WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES; Winkler's FLOWERS FOR JEAN GENET; Hochhut's TELL 38.
I who only wanted to get certain books published then became a publisher faut mieux, see links to my resume & story of Urizen Books & by the mid-80s had the past that I had longed for around the time of graduating and grad school to know what to write.
I think I could go over the rest of my life with the same attention to minutiae that I did from birth to age 21, and there certainly were some major crises, which can be traced to the now aboriginal traumata. Doing a psychoanalysis was worth everything.
Two features of the early trauma manifested themselves: the inability to live within the confinement of a marriage, especially in situ, and a tendency to fall in love, blindly, with beauty, and if incestuous, that much more dangerously. And at times Hamleting like crazy, equivocating! when the killer instinct refused to go into action.
I would also say about myself that I could be dangerously nonchalant if not cavalier - taking after my grandfather in that respect.



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MICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website