[isbn is about 12 titles shorts, beats me why.]
My idea of a publishing firm owned by its employees and sharing profits [but not losses] with its authors went back to 1971, my one year as editor at McGraw Hill. An idiot like Harold McGraw and his sub-right person Beverly Loo had fallen for Irving’s Howard Hughes autobiography scam and had then taken their chagrin out on their own firm, instead of firing themselves or falling on a sword. My idea of using McGraw to launch something analogous to the famous edition Suhrkamp as well their recently acquired Herder & Herder USA, under whose aegis I was going to launch that idea, were killed off, as were a lot of other folks’ well-laid plans. I recall exploring the idea with Joyce Johnson and Lois Bermann, who subsequently became an agent, and Robert Sussman-Stewart. However, the authors who were interested in the notion seemed to be keen on better royalties and little else. I had represented Suhrkamp Verlag for two years and had had a chance to see how it developed its edition mix: four titles a month, politics, sociology and literature. I had also been proximate the founding of the German collective Verlag der Autoren and when representing Suhrkamp did nt pay the bills took on the representation of VDA and of Hanser and Rotbuch Verlag.
McGraw had the finances to launch something along the line of a variegated original paperback line, not only that: it had the talent: with the editors at the trade publishing division in the doldrums subsequent to the Howard Hughes fiasco and our having transferred from the multi-storied McGraw art deco oceanliner-shaped building near 42nd and the Hudson River into one of those huge shoebox slabs on Sixth Avenue near the Time-Life and CBS buildings - where not a single window could be opened and all ionic acivity was sealed out, too - I spent time riding the elevator and talking to editors at McGraw’s various specialized magazines: a lot of titles could be developed in house I realized. My idea was not especially original, I merely combined a number of matters I had observed during my then decade in and around publishing, and did so within the context. Also, I had noticed at my first Frankfurt Bookfair, in 1964, that publishers seemed to have a lot more fun, especially if their name was Ledig-Rowohlt. Even in the early 60s I had been a reader for that famous McMillan venture to put first rate scholarly texts onto drug store racks! I was following in the wake of successful ventures along that line: Doubleday Anchor, Random House Vintage, Noondeay, etc. etc. It was a bubbly time, it had been for some time a bubbly time, courtesy of the G.I. Bill of Rights. But not at the McGraw-Hill trade division where Linz and I started to look around for someone who would buy Herder & Herder from out under. I approached Jerry Leiber who had his office at the nearby Brill Building. Nothing came of it. Werner Linz then found the Episcopal-owned Seabury Press. Herder & Herder split into Crossroads [the combined religious titles] and Continuum Books for secular matters and, after a six month trip on the freighter The Hellenic Splendor - during which I translated two volumes worth of Enzensberger essays that I would publish at Continnum, and read several steamer trunks full of books - I had a job in 1972 as editor at Continuum and needed to be in the office only a few days a week and quite a few good things got done there [see my resume at:
during the three years there, as compared to my one year a McGraw, the best paid year of my life during which I did not publish a single title. Lots of NY editors spent one year at McGraw trade division over the years. By 1975 Werner Linz had not only come down on me for defending Paul Sylbert’s Final Cut against an attack by a minion of the in Final Cut’s featured producer, but had also killed one of the few money books I had signed up: Leiber Stoller’s I Baby that was Rock and Roll, which was then done by Collier Books, but not as the kind of down dirty book as I envisioned. Later, Urizen would distribute the 5 k copies that were left of its 75 k printing.
Some months later, in early 1975, Werner Linz had not only killed my Leiber project but was cutting back at Continuum Books where I might be able to do poetry and politics and theory but could not publish novels - whoever Werner Linz was and I never really found out, a real publisher he was not, but he was known as “a real shit” to a lot of people. Rumor had it that he had sold American Herder & Herder and ended up as its publisher while his boss, the first rate Frank Schworer had to go back to Germany where he founded Campus Verlag. But Werner had a marvelous secretary in Ulla Schnell, a Chicago editor in George Lawler, and fine line editors in Margot Shields and Karen Ready and so my experience there was not that dreadful: the Cuckoo, Kommissar Kuckuck, was able to lay quite a few fine eggs there.
The possibility to branch out on my own arose in the oddest of ways... at a Christmas party at future severely delinquent and criminally indebted author Andrew Arato’s apartment . Arato was living on McDougal at that time, I think I had already discussed the idea of a Frankfurt School Reader with him and Eike Gebhardt. Continuum Books was the logical firm to publish it what with so many Frankfurt School titles. I did quite a bit of Adorno there, but not my famous Adorno Reader that has drenched me in Adorno for the rest of my life. It was a rather large crowd in the cramped quarters and partner about-to-be Wieland Schulz - the passport name is plain old Schulz, the added Keil derives from his horror at being that plain and ordinary - was heading out to catch a flight to Germany to ensconce himself in a cutting room to finish another of the little social documentaries he was producing for West German T.V. We - the group as a whole - had been griping about publishing and I said to Wieland, the only one in that crowd whom I knew to have some business sense - I had given him my various representations on leaving the agenting of a variety of German firms and he had proved industrious: “You and I ought to start a firm some day." And never shall I forget the look that shot back at me. I had hit pay dirt - what kind of pay dirt I would find out during the course of ever more dreadful few years. About five months later, after Linz had decided to cut back, I decided to test whether I had seen right that evening at Andrew’s. I called Schulz, still or again ensconced in a cutting room in Krautland, and asked whether I had apprised the look I had seen on his face correctly. It turned out that I had.
But looking back: what did I know about Schulz at that point, in Spring 1975 when Urizen was initiated: in 1970 a fellow in a clown suit, sewn by his American hippie girlfriend Barbara Becker [“Slavegirl” ], had appeared at the Lantz-Donadio office on West 57th wanting to direct some Handke plays at B.A.M. - and as you will see below he is still wearing a clown suit- a welcome development - my having run around with a pickup troupe in the late 60s and these plays and Kaspar being done for two weeks at a time at the HB Studio had not gotten me very far. I even took away my own translator royalties to enable the B.A.M. contract - to the consternation of Suhrkamp Verlag because I made a unilateral change to that effect in the contract - time became of the essence, what American enjoyed going through a Helene Ritzerfeld song and dance for the simplest of contracts. I had attended a few parties of Schulz’s at what would become my second loft around 1978, at 65 West Broadway, when Schulz married a woman known to one and all as “Crazy Helene” who, according to Olaf Hansen, who knew her from Frankfurt University, had not been crazy but a regular girl until she got involved with Schulz and moved into a small Mews on Carmine Street in the West Village. Schulz had an interesting crowd around him, there were parties, dancing, he seemed to be courting me, I was a bit puzzled why, and going out one midnight to fetch a pack of Camels I discovered the one bar that was open at that time in that deserted lower Manhattan Tribeca neighborhood - a small red Budweiser sign aglow - Barnabus Rex: what a shoe box jammed with human warmth. The productions at B.A.M. were so so, Jezebel, the girlfriend, with the feminine part in Self-Accusation until she dropped it for a well paying role, mentioned that the director, Schulz, shouted: what German director did not shout? well, I didn’t see Herbert Berghof shout; nor later Carl Weber. Handke had within moments found Schulz to be very dark, or a least very German [as he himself would prove to be, very differently of course] and appeared to have told Schulz so to his face; at any event, aside Handke’s NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS I could not get Schulz to agree to do any other Handke; ditto for finally getting my famous Adorno reader into print: it appears Adorno had not succumbed to Schulz’s charms in Frankfurt and Schulz carried his pettinesses far.[We had to agree on the books, a fundamental stipulation.] At the start of Urizen, Barbara Becker, the hippie - and what an advantage it was for a German mountebank to have a real Kentucky hippie girlfriend for a cover - who became known as slave girl for her obeisance to and exploitation by Schulz - mentioned that a certain Christopher, a dubber of pornographic films as I would find out, was getting screwed over in matters that I might have inquired into. I filed these matters away, as I did what Susan Sontag was to tell me in 1976, and I would say, in retrospect, was too nonchalant. Schulz’s reaction to my introducing him to the man who would handle production for Urizen, an outside contractor friend, Walton Rawls, proved dimly worrisome, too. Walton was a production manager I had befriended at McGraw-Hill. Schulz said that Walton seemed immediately trustworthy, which however meant that Schulz trusted no one, probably not even himself, that his view of the world was peopled by the untrustworthy. I tucked it away and did not say anything. Walton indeed proved utterly trustworthy but for hooking up with a totally incompetent sub-contractor for the typesetting, Herbert Mordana, who was late and mis-set a lot of type, but that is how Michael Hafftka, who and his wife worked in that capacity for Mordana, entered my life as an illustrator for several Brodsky covers. When my friend Hannah Guenter from Praeger Publishers heard that Herb Mordana was our type-setter, she pitied me! Little good did her pity do. Or does it ever but for the pitier. We had a great first cover designer in Marty Moskoff, so the first list looked most presentable no matter how late some of the titles were.
At the same time that Wieland and I decided to start Urizen I was meant to do a new book for Brecht/ Weil’s The Three Penny Opera for Leo Feldsberg who had the option from Brecht’s son Stefan and was talking to the Brechtian director Carl Weber about directing it. When Leo Feldsberg got wind of what Schulz and I were about, he wanted in; and the extra 100 thousand he was willing to introduce made for a very different small than I had envisioned, who wanted to do this part time, small small. For that amount Leo even wanted the firm to be located on Central Park South - for a million I might have considered such a hideous venue and for a million - Atheneum in the 60s was started with three million I believe - he would have seen some return on his investment, too. Moreover, Leo wanted a board, I guess he envisioned getting in touch with a “who's who" of overseers - Leo hated every single buck he lost in a bet, another lesson in how to become a millionaire. But Leo and Schulz hit it off, as entrepreneurs impresarios, and at one time planned to do a film of Midsummer’s Night Dream - it certainly was the right time for that, and serious girlfiend Judith Thurman, the “great fondness” - as opposed to the subsequent “great passion” - got five thousand dollars to write the screenplay. Schulz then welched within the year on his commitment of 50 thousand dollars of development money, something I failed to remember at a critical future moment. Leo, the son of a Viennese wine merchant who - via British internment and the last boat from Australia prior to Pearl Harbor - had struck it rich in Columbia in the fruit exporting business with a 25 k loan from the Danish Consul [that was the story] - had sold the business, Fructo, for $ 40 Million, when it appeared that Castro / F.A.R.C. would take over the country. He had a penthouse on Park Avenue South, where we met, and a fortress on a hill outside Kali, with, I gather, a grand collection of opera recordings, two guards with submachine guns circled his fortress, and the opposite hill the Christians ascended on their knees on Easter as Leo giggled at them from his hill. Thus the Urizen monies derived not from Schulz’s making of social documentaries for West German TV but, as I would find out within the year from Susan Sontag, from his dubbing of US pornographic films into German in partnership with an Italian NY mafia family, that is, from dirty old men masturbating in porno houses and from the backs of fruit pickers and packers in Columbia! Leo was now in a position to fulfill his Viennese childhood dream, so rudely interrupted by the Anschluss in 1938, to become an impresario. The only book Urizen published that Leo cared for, for his hatred of Catholicism, was Rudolf Augstein’s Jesus Son of Man.
Schulz, in his cutting room in Spring 1975, delegated future author Wolfgang Schivelbusch - The Industrialized Traveler - to whom I would give my Independence Plaza apartment where I lived after I had to move from Rockaway until the great passion and I bought the 4 thousand square foot loft on Duane Park, for 10 k I think, what must be worth 5 million dollars now - to discuss the “program” at Rockaway Beach, near Rijs Park, where I lived then. Emblematic of the enterprise as a whole, on concluding the discussion, Wolf Gang [a wolf’s pace] marched into the surf as only an East Prussian might, which promptly turned him upside down, he lost his glasses! - imagine going into the surf with your glasses on! - is this Jacque Tati or not? - got an instant headache and “slave-girl” Barbara Becker had to drive him back to the city in Schulz’s beat-up International Harvester personnel carrier. I forgot whether Judith Thurman, the serious girlfriend, and I merely looked at each other or broke out in laughter. All I really cared about in the discussion of the “program" was that you couldn’t program literature. Wieland and Wolfgang’s fascination with social history was fine with me, and Urizen then did perhaps half a dozen interesting titles along that line, the most important being Norbert Elias’s The Civilizing Process. The continuing helter skelter education that editorship provides was much endowed and grateful. However, Wolfgang then had to sue Schulz to get his contracted-for Industrialized Traveler into production; I found a fine translator for it, and it turned into Urizen’s prettiest book. Schulz, during his then 5 years in the US, had made it a point to acquaint himself with what was left of the aging WW II emigres [I knew the various agents, Joan Daves, Max Becker, Sanford Greenberger, Elizabeth Marton, etc. and liked them all quite a bit] and the various permutations of the US left, a sometimes brilliant but still ineffectual lot. A number of titles and authors would derive thence, most amusing was Ralph Schoenman, who had been Bertrand Russel’s secretary at one point. Schulz during his half-decade in the U.S. had become well versed in the permutations of American leftism, mostly university-based even then, I happened to like Stanley Aronowitz for having real union origins, and introduced him to my friend Fred Jameson, and they hit it off, who however somehow never showed up at Urizen. And though I feel more and more like a Trotskyite, these inclinations are at war with my anarchist tendencies, idle as these speculations are. Schoenman was married to a movie critic, and raising buffalo :
Serious and first rate, Tom Ferguson. The two Anti-Samuelsons. Divest the billionaires of their illgotten worth, no one have more than 10 million, and distribute, and thus Tom Ferguson's work was published by us, and if we'd stuck around the three or was it five volumes of Marx/ Engels'contribution to the New York Herald Tribune, they had been their chief foreign correspondents, from London, for many years, and we did this by subscription commitment, but had not reached the necessary number of I think 300 by the time the firm went under; lots of the then Soviet Union libraries had subscribed as was to be expected. A huge and expensive undertaking; another major task that remained uncompleted was the publication of the collected translated Bresson screenplays. We did his Cinematography and Susan Sontag forever the good egg in that respect supplied a handsome quote.
Urizen was started in Wielands’s loft, on the top and fourth floor of 65 West Broadway, with his fine secretary Siegrid as its only other employee, then I discovered that the fourth floor in the opposite commercial building was for rent - and I strung a South American rope bridge across West Broadway in my imagination - and went to a lot of auctions and found the most marvelous old items - ledgers of all kinds, grand old mahogany desks, an assortment of 1920s technical gadgets at a bankrupt airplane manufacturer - to furnish these old quarters that came with a huge safe built into one wall, and that was a lot of fun. The second floor of that building was occupied by a printing plant which we used for minor jobs. I love printing plants! With a great front and cornice, except for a sliver, the office of an accountant, James Glaviano we had the fourth floor and its toilet all to ourselves. I rented a slither of a room next to my office, first to a runaway from “Goodbye Mr. Robinson” who sculpted, literally, I kid you not what looked like turds; then to one of my best downtown friends Boris “Policeband” Pearlman. Dike Blair and I have a piece about him at my:
A cheap buy as someone who looked at Glaviano’s work for us once called him. One big room with great shelving, the front office with a huge old safe with a working combination. It all came out looking wonderfully funky, I had a marvelous ancient rolling cabinet with 12 lacquered drawers where the m.s. in progress could be stored within hand’s reach. That I miss even though I keep my various m.s. now as Google docs who knows at what servers on Mars or Venus.
Urizen was started with $ 200,000, 100 from Leo and 100 from Schulz, via entities entitled Oberon and Princeton N.V. [Netherland Antilles]. I, later, within a few years, introduced 50 k, 10 from my father, ten I had earned editing the autobiographical novel of a rich banker’s wife, and 30 k in the form of 10 dollar loans from three different friends, whom I did not even have to approach, as I wouldn’t have, they sensed that Urizen or I had money worries; or they liked the idea of Urizen. Generous as hell. Expressions of confidence at a time that I was already getting worried, both about the firm and about Schulz. Yet very odd. Peter Handke, Jeannette N. and Carey C. and I then signed notes for all three; as I would later for half of Urizen’s debt to our printer, the George E. Banta Company which stood at $ 160,000 K at the end. Only Jeanette, so far, at least got part of the money back, the only one in some real need. My third share was based on my experience and, I think, Leo imagining that with my record of publishing Hesse I might strike another vein of gold. I did in a way, by consolidating all of Sam Shepherd’s plays at Urizen, who was our best seller year in year out, a playwright with the following of a novelist; five collections, plus the Pulitzer Prize winning Buried Child. I paid myself initially 1 k a month, which I could afford to do because I had an equal amount in royalty income.
Initially Urizen Books was called Hyperion, think Hoelderlin. I had checked Publishers Weekly’s publishing bible for the name's availability. Within say six months, however, a Hyperion Edition came out of the woodworks, not a real publisher which is why it was not listed in PW, but a reprinter from Connecticut. We wanted to avoid confusion as well as a lawsuit and so, at Olaf Hansen's suggestion, it became Blake's URIZEN.
a book I did not
know then, but its illustrations
are certainly prophetic
of my suffering the firm ,
prophetic for someone who will undergo no end of near torture for a cause. Michael Hamburger was none the happier about the name change.
As soon as the firm was founded I asked my former wife, Ekaterina, whether she could come up with a stationary design, and so she did, with something nearly as fine and modern as Ralph Coburn, the MIT Metamorophosis designer might have. Schulz, however, was quite unhappy, and since it did not seem that big a deal, the new second set of Hyperion stationary, printed on marvelous grey stock, as well as the first set, was used as scrap. However, the second set on its gray stock and super refined as compared to futura type face assumed the pretense of the firm being at least a 100 year old, another hint at the pretentiousness of my man. A 100 + year old impresario fraud; who looked so much older than in fact he was not only for having been raised by his grandfather, a famously crooked Frankfurt banker as I would find out about 7 years later, but also for losing his hair at an early age, for having then an unkempt beard, now trimmed:
is that Rasputin or not?
About the only good thing that came out of Leo Feldsberg’s presence was his insistence that I get a bona fide distributor, Dutton, and, being unexperienced, I was so grateful to have found one that I made an onerous distribution deal with Ivor Whitson that called for Urizen having to pay Dutton a minimum of 50 K annually [25% of cover price] for distributing our list, which however meant that if we were going to approximately generate such an expensive but validating nut - i.e. a gross minus book store discount of $ 200,000 per annum - I had to put a lot of books into print really fast and expend the start-up money in a hurry. And if it hadn’t been for Lee & Sussman-Stewart’ SEX DIFFERENCES being taken by five different book clubs...
I was so furious at Leo at the way he kept not introducing his promised funds that I recall making the one and only threat in my life: Leo, if you welch on this agreement, you will never produce anything in New York! What else was this embarrassment interested in: young girls, of course. If only I had thought of Mary H. and she had still been in my life, maybe I could have pried more than his promised 100 k out of Leo. I really earned those 100 k the grief that man gave me over it I felt once it had all been introduced. By the second list Schulz had found books for us to distribute, the Trotskyite Pluto Press in London, the Kidrons, lovely people, first we fell behind in paying them their share, then they fell behind in paying us for distributing our books in the UK; and that is how Wilfred Burchett came into my life: as Trotzkyites Pluto would not publish a Stalinist old-time United Front journalist like Wilfred, who behaved most honorably during WW II, no matter that there was really no political line in his reporting from inside the Vietcong tunnels in his Mosquitos and Elephants, which proved a considerable success. South Africa Stands Up was another matter, it lacked the kind of firsthand experience on which Wilfred drew so well in Mosquitos, and took a hard left party line. But no wonder that NY Times Books then had the good sense to publish such a great war reporter’s autobiography. But no Elaine’s: here the short and long URL to my Elaine’s account:
it would have been unlikely that I had known how to assemble some journalists who had been in Vietnam to meet with Wilfred when he came to New York. Ivor Whitson at Dutton was none the happier for my showing up with a list of 40 books for our second sales conference, but there was nothing he could do about it, he had put no limit on what we could give his sales force to carry. I recall being rather fatigued after presenting all forty books i a row. Surprisingly, some of the Pluto titles did really well, especially their Jack London biography - one of those authors you can publish a biography of every decade and expect to do well with it if it is halfway up to snuff.
THE AUTHORS AND THEIR BOOKS
During the course of the first year just about every unpublished poetry m.s. in the U.S. and Canada reached the start-up. I took a look at each of them, and gradually whittled down the pile. Subsequently I realized that lots of them had at least one publishable poem; that would have made for an interesting anthology indeed.
I was fairly backed up with books I wanted to but could not do at Continuum when Urizen was started. Innerhofer’s Beautiful Days, Bataille’s Story of the Eye and Blue of Noon; and some that I could have and would have with a real publisher as head of Seabury/ Continuum, e.g. Arato/Gebhardt’s The Frankfurt School Reader, a new edition of Michael Hamburger’s Modern German Poetry. I had come to know over using him as one of the translators of the Nelly Sachs volume Oh the Chimneys at Farrar, Straus in 1966. Also, I had stayed in touch with that weird child T.V. prodigy Robert Sussman-Stewart who had been briefly editor of The Atlantic Monthly at age 24, something like that, and thus Urizen did his and Lee’s Sex Differences [another bread and butter, I knew about bread and butter back-listing by then, and one that saved Urizen’s as at the end of its first year by being taken by five different book clubs.] The only problem with that reader was that is initiator, Robert SS could not write the head-notes for his selections. I forgot how that problem was solved, I think his Columbia University co-author Lee did them, but that also meant that Sussman-Stewart could then not deliver on some other similarly attractive proposals, a Kohut reader, for example on which I was very keen. A similar problem ensued with Arato/ Gebhardt’s Frankfurt School venture: Gebhardt might be able to talk your ears off - but he could not write head-notes for his selections; and we never found the co-editor for Frankfurt School Reader II that was meant to cover the younger generation, I recall approaching Anson Rabinbach, and I forget why he was unable to collaborate. After considerable search Wieland found Christopher Lasch to write a fine introduction for Volume I. The proudest achievement of proselytizing for the Frankfurt School came a few years back when I came on some Southern outfit blaming the Frankfurt School for everything that had gone wrong in The South. It was an outfit with definite claims to racism, although not The Clan. “If only” is all I can say, if only critical thinking had become truly pervasive! It took years for the F.S. I to come out, and by the time it did, Hyung Pak replaced it’s wonderful school-notebook black and white mottled cover with the green one that has disgraced it all these years. Hyung Pak who showed me nothing on first meeting and nothing but being sweet and doing nothing during the one year of creating a very peaceful space in the back room before I made Schulz fire him. After Hyung departed, aside myself and a changing caste of secretaries, Hilary White, Heather’s sister, then Anne Hemenway, another Bennington grad who had studied under Bernard Malamud, only a lovely sheepdog of a fellow by the name of Keith Goldsmith was left. Keith had come on his own, he was from the West Coast, Stanford I think, had studied in England and already had some publishing experience, I had him meet the other employees, who all liked him, he had a job and our sending him to London on a scouting expedition helped him get a job with George Braziller, highly recommended. He missed the last gasps of Urizen. Take another look at Blake’s illustrations.
Via my and Laurie Spiegel’s need of someone to wire out loft at 173-175 Duane Park I met Jim Stratton who was also part owner of what became one of my two standy-by pubs, Puffy’s, at Hudson and Jay streets, and the author of one of the two really locally rooted books I did: Pioneering in the Urban Wilderness. I think I sent Jim around the country to cover the then burgeoning loft movement, Jim became one of my favorite authors, the only man I ever danced with, Greek style, at Puffy’s, and a long-suffering downtown reform democrat this ex UPI man was, too. The other downtown book was the first US punk book, which was an import to which we added an American section that Dike Blair edited. One other fortunately might have been downtown author was Kathy Acker who, however, pulled out shortly after we had signed the contract: amazingly Schulz, much as he hated her book, agreed to do Blood and Guts in Highschool - I can’t say I loved it, but it seemed to strike a nerve in the downtown crowd. Cathy also pulled out of the second time she signed a contract for the book, with my tax-shelter agent, Jeffrey Steinberg’s also ill-fated Stonehill Books, and ended up with my friend Fred Jordan at Grove. I had done a lot of work for Fred in the early Sixties and liked him a great deal and was thoroughly amused by his deep-seated Viennese love of the perverse that existed side by side with an excellent literary mind: Fred and I, it turned out, might have met already in Spring 1945. He was a member of the British contingent that took the city of Bremen. Author Wolfgang Schivelbusch, it turned out, as an East Prussian refugee, had lived up the road, the cobble-stoned Kirkway, in my village of Schoenebeck and perhaps I and some village kids even engaged him and other refugee kids in rock throwing fights! Little do you know who it is who might throw stones at: perhaps it is a re-incarnation of Walter Benjamin. Anyhow, Wolfgang was as close as we came to that!
Second favorite author became Wilfred Burchett, for the life he had lived; for the Bulgarian peasant wife he had, for having been, and still being sort of, a United Front man of the Thirties, who however had a “Bungalow” in Paris, in Meudon, not too far from Yuppie Handke’s little Gruenderzeit castle, in Clamart, one of these hideous ostentatiousnesses that you can find all over eastern France and the German Rhine region and which date to the post Franco-Prussian 1870-71 war reconstruction era, pseudo fieldstones walls on the first floor - my prejudices derive from my notion of the ‘real’ North-German farmhouse steads with reed-thatched roof and the barns and animal sheds part of the stead: warm and whole and very ancient! And with pleasant animal smells, cow dung, horse farts! The pig pens were separate, as were the chicken coops. In that respect, and probably some others I have been an arch conservative since childhood.
Andrew Arato, who also signed a contract for a Georgy Lukacs I much looked forward to editing since I knew Lukacs’s literary work very well, however has not delivered on that book in now 35 years! And refuses to return his advance. Too much time spent whoring and b.s.ing! And when Schulz was desperate for money even after having sold the heart of Urizen in 1981 for $ 25 K and approached Arato for a loan of a mere $ 300 Arato wrote me that he didn’t lend it to him because he was afraid he might not be paid back. Petty bourgeois projecting if ever there was is all I can say.
Sam Shepard came into our lives via a friendship with his agent Toby Cole, also deceased, and we not only did a fine first collection, Angel City & Other Plays, but four other play collections that had then, already, gone out of print, and Sam was by far our steadiest best seller. I visited this strange troubled genius once in Mill Valley to bring him the galleys of his Pulitzer Prize winning Buried Child and we had a fine correspondence, too.
Michael Brodsky came into our lives via Patricia Highsmith who sent him to Handke in Paris who sent him to me in New York where he arrived in my office with a maroon leather satchel that contained five books. After we parted after a brief chat I took a look at the first page of each and might have said “Eureka” - but I don’t say Eureka, I just realized: here was the real thing, a writer on the order of Beckett. Schulz didn’t cotton to Brodsky, fortunately we did not get into a difficult situation: he had met Marvin Cohen who had an ample publishing history at that time, and I didn’t see any great urgency to publish more of the kind, so I said: you do Marvin, I do Brodsky! Brodsky’s Detour won the P.E.N. Hemingway Prize, for the most unHemingwayesque prose ever for sure, Brodsky proved personally to transfer his agues and tortured being onto me who was becoming sufficiently tortured by the relationship with the partner as not to need more and so I did not seek his company but made sure that he and Handke got together every time Handke was in town, used him to be a third, as of a certain point I did not want to be alone with Handke. Marvin proved personally delightful! Thus he is numbered among favorite authors for the good company he was and I regret not taking him to Elaine’s at some point who I think would have loved to meet the seedy son she never had. Marvin is a far better writer than, say Woody Allen, but failed to have Woody’s luck. Moira Hodgson who was an editor somehwhere kept saying that if only she could find something among Marvin’s pieces to do. I said: Marvin’s pieces - one is nearly as good as another.
Some authors, if dead or foreign, such as Bataille or Kroetz, you of course never meet except in spirit - in the instance of Bataille I recall a most embarrassing meeting at the offices of Edition de Minuit with their director Jerome Lindon who refused to speak any language but French.
My reading French was fairly decent - spoken barely existed for the reason that the only time I had spent more than a week in Paris, regretfully, was a month in Spring 1957. Kroetz I encountered not merely textually in translating four of his plays por nada for Carl Weber around 1970 but also in spirit, in the sense that Kroetz would admit a few years ago, in an interview, that there just might be something to it when people called him stingy. Carl had 10 k to produce a Kroetz play: Kroetz wanted all of it for himself, and that was that. I eventually got friend Jack Gelber to direct Farmyard at the old Yale Co-Op in 1974.
I paid myself $ 300 for the translations, Richard Gilman $ 1,000 for a first rate introduction, and when these plays finally started to get done, what do you know, the translator can take the hindmost. Just because a monkey has a gift for putting words together... that may be the only gift the monkey has.
Translators, too, were treated like authors. Only one became a kind of house translator for quite a number of years: Joachim Neugroeschel. I met Joachim in the Sixties at some function at Columbia University. He was talented, when I gave a reading at the Goethe House of my translation of Handke’s INNERWORLD poems, I asked him to join me with his translation of Celan poems which I had taken the trouble, as Suhrkamp agent, to vet for his publisher, Dutton. Joachim was talented and efficient and multi-lingual, although I don’t think quite as multi-lingual as he claimed. I think he translated Elja Ehrenburg’s The Life of the Automobile from the German and not the original Russian. I persuaded the P.E.N. club where I became a member of the executive committee [which sounds more impressive than this collection of worthies was] and the P.E.N. translation committee to award Joachim their annual prize for his translation of Dolf Sternberger’s Panorama of the 19th Century, one of my favorites, but a total dud in its reception in the U.S. All these folks may be venting about Benjamin’s Arcade Project: when something analogous comes along: nada. No curiosity. “Prêt a portér” is my name for intellectuals of this kind, they too move in herds. When Urizen had its one and only mass paperback sale, of Bataille’s gift to the laundry industry for despoiling so much underwear, The Story of the Eye, what if Neugröschel doesn’t feel that he deserves 50% of the share! The contract, in itself unique, provides for the translator’s share of 10%, something I have never received for any of my Hesse translations that were sold for hundreds of thousands to mass paper. I tell Joachim to fly a kite on Rockaway Beach, but his agent Heide Lange then badmouths me for years on end, an agent who evidently is unable to read a contract. Only goes to prove the adage: treat someone whose physiognomy is so disgusting that Handke nearly puked after meeting him [as the so easily nauseated Handke did also nearly after meeting the equally if not more hideously ugly Barbara Rose] and they will not just bite the hand that feeds them, but try to bite off your arm at the shoulder. It is here that anesthetics and morality meet at a profound junction. There also exists beautiful ugly, I first realized it many years later on coming on “Pop-Eye”, a high rise steel worker who had retired to the beach near Colonet in Baja California Norte, whose face had become disfigured from the molten shrapnel of his riveting. And could cite quite a few other instances. Of course if you are a beauty addict such as I am you are bound to be deceived by no end of feminine beauty. Unlike Handke, the Prussian steel in me can manage to see past the ugly - an equivocal quality in that respect.
As to Dolf Sternberger, I met him once, he came to the Urizen stand at the Frankfurt, an older, tall very much gentleman who said he was curious who these kids were who were interested in his then decades old work. By and large I am fonder of that generation of scholars and writers, Nelly Sachs, Hans Erich Nossack, Theodor W. Adorno, Sternberger, etc. The part of me that was brought up by a grandmother who was famous for the sentence “you don’t learn manner, you are born with them.” I liked the older authors and I liked the offices of the French and British publishers at the time.
died in 1977. Urizen published his Society against the State, but went under prior to doing Paul Auster’s translation of his Guayaki Indians.
Each title, especially at a small firm, accrues its own history of debacle-barnacles before it is born, and sometimes after. With Herbert Mordana for a hapless typesetter, the first books had more than their share of mishaps. Final galleys of Olaf Hansen’s The Randolph Bourne Reader suddenly appeared in an entirely wrong type script that the designer had chosen for it: under pressure to get the book out and for income I had little choice but to go with the wrong type. Even after numerous attempts to get Mr. Mordana to correct an infinitude of typos in Michael Hamburger’s anthology of Modern German poetry about 500 of them were left and Michael ultimately felt that he had to disown that edition. Jim Stratton’s Pioneering in the Urban Wilderness arrived over-inked from its Baltimore printer, it struck me as appropriate, quite aside the need for the book to start to earn its keep, and so I did not take the printer up on the offer to rerun it.
The weirdest tale of all is of Dr. Mikhail Stern’s The USSR versus Dr. Mikhail Stern. Schulz it was who came on this trial transcript, published by Gallimard, and sales manager Howard Linzer liked the idea of it. I myself found the transcript suspiciously clean, for once I smelled a rat! And in translation it became even cleaner: Dr. Stern eliminated any hint that he might have traded tetesterone injections of sexually under-developed Ukrainian boys for Ukrainian geese. However, the publication of the book then involved Urizen and me in the NY humanity hyenas, Dr. Mikhail Stern whom the CIA had managed to get out of the USSR, arrived in this country and in no time was walking in the Ukranian Day parade, “Ukranian Blood has been flowing in my veins for hundreds of year” - no doubt there was some real truth to that! One of his sons, very much a peasant, came to have lunch with me and asked for an advance from Urizen: I pointed out that we had bought the book from Gallimard and that we accounted to them. Anyhow, not lacking in chutzpah! It then turned out that the good doctor’s second book, about the sex life in the Soviet Union, had been slipped to him as he crossed the border from Hungary I think to Austria and he and his peasant sons went on to Israel to open a sex clinic. Urizen even organized a reading tour for the clever fellow whom I never met personally.
Sabbath/Hall’s End Product made for an interesting venture, Howard Linzer thought it was a gas to do a book about shit, and Abbey Rockefeller, who was involved in propagating a mulch toilet, wrote the introduction for it. The cover became a forever bone of contention, finally we went with a plate of fruit!
URIZEN also turned down a number of authors that became quite successful subsequently, three of them are playwrighs, John Ford Noonan, Wallace Shawn and David Mamet. American Buffalo looked like good old American realism, I might have liked it more if I had seen it. If the play submitted had been Glengary Glenross matters would have been different at least on my score, the editorial partner felt pretty much the same as I did in these three instances. John Ford Noonan’s play was his Two White Chicks Talking. I can’t stand Wallace Shawn’s work when it gets performed. Aunt Lemon is done every few years in Seattle; people who write like that ought to become jungle fighters. What is surprising in retrospect is that we did not do Heiner Mueller since Wieland and I both knew him and cared for his work and his translator Carl Weber. I think it was that we felt that his work didn’t have the chance of a snowball in the hell of the U.S. We were wrong, but the proposition was never seriously discussed, moreover Schivelbusch had written a dissertation about Mueller and I would later look over Carl’s translation for him. If Urizen had been better financed I had the notion to do a play series with its own editor, in which case. But that did not happen, and so the saleability of these plays also entered into the consideration not to take a chance. Thus the only playwrights we did were Sam Shepard and Krötz.
Olaf Hansen was around a lot and became a real friend for many years and when at Frankfurt I would stay with him.
Peter Fuller’s Champions was not a necessary book to do but was another instance, like the unnecessary but wonderful Randolph Bourne Reader, where Schulz bugged me so long until I gave my o.k. Ditto for Dick Howard’s essays on Frankfurt School figures. I liked Dick Howard fine, I just did not like digests of great literary philosophers. I believe, however, it was Dick Howard who called our attention to Suzanne DeBrunhoff’s Marx on Money. Now there is a book! Bornemann’s Psychoanalysis of Money was my idea, and I am glad that Schulz called my attention to Tilman Moser’s Years of Apprenticeship on the Couch - mine lay ahead of me, and if they had lain behind I would have done a lot better at Urizen, as will anyone with revolutionary impulses.
Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed was suggested to me by I forget his name, but am still grateful for the suggestion and I once spent a few hours with the author at the Fifth Avenue Bar. Hans Magnus Enzensberger gave me his marvelous essay poems Mausoleum at the start of Urizen, and Neugroeschel translated it, but despite all the good will I expanded on this the third Enzensberger title, no luck, too intelligent and clever for the bloody country. I knew Enzensberger since 1961, I met him at Ruth Landshoff-York’s at her place on Cornelia Street. Innerhofer’s Beautiful Days I had become aware of at a Frankfurt book fair, and it received fine reviews, and I once spent an afternoon with the author on a sunny day at a table outside Barnabus Rex, I was not too surprised when he committed suicide, nor that he was a severe depressive with the kind of childhood he describes there; Olaf, too, was a life-long depressive, despite years of psychoanalysis, and for similar reasons. Both Julia Kristeva’s About Chinese Women and Euginio Montale’s Poet in our Time came to us via my relationship with Marion Boyars Books. Gavino Leddas Padre Padrone I bought from friend Inge Feltrinelli, and despite some pre-publication and a fine film based on it, Padrone proved a complete dud: I am still scratching my head: why? Jerry Leiber’s Selected Lyrics for years was ready to go but for Leiber’s inability to settle on a final selection: another instance of Leiber driving you batty. Marc Linder’s two volume Anti-Samuelson I believe came to us via Ralph Schoenman, but I might be wrong. Paul Milvy’s The Long Distnace Runner was brought to us by our sales manager Howard Linzer and did very well indeed. Sartre by Himself long long set of interviews I bought from Gallimard when no one else seemed to want to do it. Jonathan Steele’s Inside East Germany I bought from Lois Wallace and a fine author and book it turned out to be too. And I expect I am leaving out a few things. Norbert Elias was Wieland’s idea and he proved a magnificent impresario in organzing a conference around its publication. Sales were disappointing and proved that a long review in the NYRB probably depresses sales since the innelectuals who read the rag think they no longer need to read the book once they have read a long review of it. Shame! The matter involving the then non-publication by Urizen of Bob Kalich's The Handicapper has its own footnote.
I had nothing to complain about the way Urizen Books was treated by the review media or the bookshops or printers or typesetters or our own sales reps once we got out from under Dutton. During its 6 year existence a single book shop welched on its debt; one type setter held me personally it seemed up when he knew I needed a Pulitzer Prize winning play set quickly: he doubled the price for the final set of galleys! The same Pulitzer Prize winner’s first 200 books [five cartons of 40 books each I think] were stolen off a loading dock and consigned to a book shop on lower Broadway that shall go unnamed here: i.e. the “mob” knew where there was value. Otherwise: hey, hideous business was clean! It was perspicuous. The example of my father as an unhappy but invariably successful pathos-ridden businessman had made me leery of anything along those lines. The upfront business, that is.
One matter I noticed early on was Schulz turning various personal expenses that he was incurring over to Urizen and paying himself even when he was not working, which was rarely since, e.g. the four part WPA series kept him out of New York at least for one whole year early on. His all around nervous and harriedness transmitted itself to anyone who came into contact with him in a working environment. Handke at one point mentioned how nervous I had become, Carey Cameron, after Urizen was all over, how calm I was! Schulz, also, I started to notice took pity on truly pitiable people and gave them small allowances, which he now sought to have Urizen defray. I objected and I think that stopped.
Within the year of Urizen Book’s founding in 1975 Susan called to ask if I knew whether partner Wieland Schulz’s sources of funds were a pornographic film dubbing company named Vicland Productions. I did not, I had been given to understand that Schulz’s sources were the little socially relevant documentaries he produced for West German TV. Instead of aborting the Urizen venture or seeking counsel, the next time Schulz and I talked after what Susan had conveyed - he had been away - I said it would be nice to know about these things – I felt it was too late to avert the entire enterprise. Yet it is at least the second time that I might have sought counsel, the original share holder’s agreement being the first. But I now took greater interest in one Victor Bertini, the Vic part of Vicland [Vic is pronounced FICK in Kraut, Fuckland is the joke] who showed at the office every so often, progressively more distraught. Later it would devolve that Schulz had also screwed the Italian mob out of their cut, specifically Victor, I heard the figure $ 250,000, source for which information was self-same Christopher Giercke, the actual dubber of the porn films, and I, too, was to become progressively more distraught as Schulz’s pulled his two card Monte tricks on me and Leo Feldsberg, the third partner, and his insulting shouting and the pain he caused me, the bastard as so many called him. I recall returning from a hard-working ABA in Chicago, whenever I had to go away Schulz kept calling and shouting on the phone, this time I returned to his wanting to hire a sad sad editor who had been let go at McMillan, Bernard Hassan, and as he introduced Bernard to me he shouted, Bernard flinched, and I had to all I could not to slug Schulz right there and then. Eventually I started to get into fights in bars at the slightest provocation. The photographer Mimi Cook whose book we distributed took some photos of me, and people mentioned that I must have been angry the day she took the photos.
Bernard, however, brought with him the possibility of buying McMillan’s translation of Rudolph Augstein’s Jesus, Son of Man, a bestseller in Germany that was perhaps too much of a hot potato. I let Bernard edit it, and he gave the galleys out to a boyfriend of his, and I failed to check the proofs which then contained about 400 errors. Bernard was gone within the year - Schulz had an invariable talent for finding the worst losers except in the instance of Howard Linzer who became our sales manager  and a friend of his wife’s, Linda Coverdale was at Urizen briefly in 1980 and was a delight and has gone on to fame as a translator from the French. While I am on the subject of employees, see my Linzer footnote on Howard. Otherwise, Keith Goldsmith a true darling came aboard for about a year in 1979 and via Braziller and some other firms has gone to do well at Random House.
One example of Schulz’s thievery at the very time that Urizen was started was the four part series on the WPA which was based on Olaf Hansen’s research, and for which Hansen was never paid. What Hansen got instead was a contract for the completely unnecessary “Randolph Bourne Reader” [superfluous in the sense that something along that line had been published five years earlier]. Eventually I gave in to Schulz’s pestering, as I did a number of other times, and said, “ok we’ll do it but you will see that it will be a loss leader”... as indeed it was. However, it proved to be Olaf’s ticket to American Studies in the U.S. Not that that made up for having years of work stolen! Olaf can regard himself lucky that at least his name is cited in those documentaries. Olaf did not deliver on a biography of James Agee for which he was paid a fairly sizable advance. For that I believe I put him in touch with old friend Robert Phelps who had been a friend of the fabled Agee.
I myself kept pulling rabbits out of hats – tax shelters that involved a lot of dangerous driving with my junkie tax shelter agent Jeffrey Steinberg, but no Elaine’s, no Bruce, no Cathy, no Cathy in need of nosegay to stay awake while she fights the Prizker family and Saul Steinberg in an endeavor that the city of New York eventually takes over, no “Charles” of the great barman’s guide... and a lot of things would not have happened down the line, and no Jeffrey and no tax shelters. Two banker’s passed on the idea of introducing the funds required to put the firm on a sound financial basis, so that it could grow and so that it wouldn’t twice a year - with the spring and fall liste - be in a do or die situation, live from hand to mouth. The third time that I might have consulted a legal beagle was when Hyung Pak, a burnt-out case of Korean sales manager who replaced the first rate Howard Linzer - the only invaluable employee Urizen ever had [see Linzer note] - after Howard had walked out after a spat with a fellow employee, alerted me that Schulz appeared to have sluiced through an extra $ 80,000. The situation was the following. With my two attempts to put the firm on the kind of sound financial footing it required for long-term growth had been aborted once these bankers had had one look at Schulz, Schulz had managed to inveigle ex-school mate Michael Klett, who had inherited the Klett Verlag and Klett Cotta, into possibly introducing half a million dollars. For that Schulz claimed he needed to be in charge and claimed that Leo wanted him as president - later I would find out from Leo that Schulz had told him that that was what I allegedly wanted and so Leo had consented. The year is 1979, around 1978 Schulz discovered to his own surprise that l’il Urizen was quite hot, we got good reviews, we won some prizes with Sam Shephard and Brodsky; thus his interest. We had a pretty neat list. Classy. Howard Linzer, the only good person Schulz ever brought into the firm, had gotten us out from under Dutton, we had a fine sales force. It was on my return from a todos santos trip with the brat, subsequent to a Frankfurt Bookfair, that I was confronted with Schulz’s demands. I might have remembered Schulz’s welching on his 50 k commitment to Leo Feldsberg - so Schulz had to be taking a major chance that I would not. Or perhaps he wanted to be caught? At any event, when he appeared at my office after Hyung Pak had alerted me that $ 80,00 had been sluiced through Urizen, I had several choices of course. Call Leo, call Michael Klett, call a lawyer - instead I decided to test Schulz, who had devised one of his overly complicated deals, a buy back scheme, for the introduction of 500,000 into the firm, and which was tied to the initial share holders agreement and the monies that the three partners had introduced. So I said, “Well, if you really have put in $ 180.000 of working capital then your shares in the future arrangement ought to reflect that.” By that time  I had already arranged for an infusion of $ 250,000 in tax shelter money - there was that amazing ride I took with the tax shelter lawyer, who headed a boy scout troupe, say to Massapequa, on the Long Island Railroad because the individual investment agreements had to be signed outside the New York City limits for legal reasons that were beyond me even then, and then returning with $ 250,000 in checks and depositing them in our bank.  I was also keenly aware that Schulz had paid himself $ 1 k a month, plus expenses, for the four years of the firm’s existence, while, to put it generously, working half time - how could he have the time what with his his little socially relevant films and branching out disastrously into independent film making; and  Urizen had at least half a dozen employees, three more than needed. And I was not sufficiently insistent on pointing out that we did not need a special person to handle publicity, that after Howard split we did not need a useless replacement such as Hyung Pak, whom at least I managed to get Schulz to fire a year later. To justify its overhead Urizen needed to publish more or more quickly selling books. Later I would arrange for two further infusions of tax shelter money - one less missile head I told myself, and it was invariably dentists who did the investing in books that sold a little, but God forbid that these investments suddenly turned a profit and could not be used as tax write offs. No wonder my expensive teeth is all I can say!
I will never in my life forget Schulz’s reaction to my statement that he ought in that case be rewarded with an equivalent in new shares. He shook his head in the particular old man’s way - when something transpired that he did not understand at all. Shake that head Wieland, shake that head, and when he couldn’t get his way he would threaten to run out! In retrospect, now that I understand what a perversely masochistically sadistic character structure governed the fellow, I imagine he expected to be punished, now that he had been caught, in flagranti as it were, I expect he expected that he had been found out and would be whipped as his grandfather had whipped him when caught him stealing or whatever - what is so wonderful is how John Houston saw so entirely through Schulz at once and made him play the role of the burglar in Annie, and used him to provide real whores from Mexico city to Guernavaca during the filming of Under the Volcano.]. It is just not me, so I not only fancy myself, to treat people in that fashion. I was just playing with Schulz that day and also wanted to see whether the Klett-Cotta deal would actually materialize - it did not but for $ 50,000 k tide over money that they invested, and lost; and when it did not materialize, there I was with another tax shelter deal and Urizen would stay afloat another year, and I had some other, far more dangerous options too - but taking the firm over on my own as I might have then, no, I preferred the position of eminence grise, let Schulz be the head of it, he was scarcely ever around. Thus if anyone is responsible for the demise and the crash that would be Urizen it is I for not cutting out Schulz in time. Klett’s introducing the 50 k moneys via Dresdner meant a change of banks, and closing out the old account: looking at that final statement from Citibank I noticed that Schulz had paid it, it was about 15 k, entirely to himself. I never saw a check book again until after bankruptcy in 1982! Kept asking for it, had Anne Hemenway our last front office person ask him for it. Nada.
Schulz stealing – what didn’t he steal! Ideas too – my friend Gonzalo de Herralde Grau’s “Under the Volcano” project from him and running with it to John Houston. That was the tipping point, I stopped dithering, giving Schulz the credit he deserved for his line of social history books; he had sluiced no end of money through Urizen by then; and been caught, and got paid and scarcely put any work in, how could he with all his own still-born film projects that were bankrupting WSK Productions, Pretty Maggie Money Eyes and whatever they were all called, Maggie was made in Cartegena, Columbia, a town I regret not having been to, and its colonial splendors.Gonzalo’s Jetlag was produced out of the Urizen offices - and later Schulz installed a ticker-tape machine: I will never forget the comunication “we accept your accounting” coming in from the Spanish co-producer! I doubled over with laughter how he had fooled another fool. But at that point of Schulz taking out Gonzalo on the Under the Volano project I took aim at him, I recall the moment to the day, I was in my office, looking out across the street at what was now my loft on West Broadway, as Schulz said he’d got the project for himself, he was standing to my left, and had run with it to John Houston who had been wanting to make a film of one of that favorite book for a long time. Schulz had neither understanding nor respect for a younger film maker such as Gonzalo who came out of Antonioni, who had entered our lives with his brother Herralde who ran Anagrama in Barcelona, which was part of a small consortium of small publishers: Marion Boyars, Klaus Wagenbach, 10/18 Christian Bourgeois, was there or was there not an Italian?, friend Inge Feltrinelli was too big, and Urizen. At that moment something clicked. As usual, I remained laconic. For good reason Chris Sievernich, who has assisted on occasion, as I have him in his dealings with Schulz, calls me “the hunter” - my sign, Sagittarius! whenever we talk or correspond. And the hunt, the collection is still on, and with the last breath I breathe...
In 2000, give or take a year, I received a call, here in Seattle, from L.A. and I am informed that Schulz has done it again. He’s tried to double bill a German producer, Herr Kaiser, and I am apprised of all the other producers Schulz has screwed and bankrupted in the then already long meanwhile and I talk and e-mail with all of them and we found the Schulz-Keil Hunting society.
And a few years back someone else who has smelled a rat, Verena von Zobeltitz, a German screen writer, contacts me and brings me up on a tiger who will never change his stripes.Even now Schulz finds ways to inveigle himself, via the film set photographer, also of a lot of Handke photos, Helena Birnbaum, with a moron like Stephan Peter Jungk, who has the dark Handke on one side and the destructively dark Schulz as a close friend!
People have asked me and so I have myself why it took me so long, why I put up with Schulz with all I knew about him and what he had done, why I endangered my life with all the matters I did to keep the firm going: Schulz had screwed Leo, taken over the firm, used it to sluice funds through, tried but failed to have access to Michael Klett’s credit line of half a million, etc. etc., and all I can say is the following: until the end - aside denial of the breadth and breathtaking perversity of Schulz which only came after I called around later on - I always had a lot of outs,  As of 1979 I had an inheritance coming with which I could borrow and buy him out for the apparently desperately needed 25 K, in 1980 matters looked so favorable that I moved the entire office across the street to my loft - I had never wanted to have a staff of seven as Urizen did for some years;  there was Charles’[“Bouquet”] brilliant bar tender’s guide as a real money book, and a promised investment of $ 500 k, I could always find another tax shelter and provide relief to no end of American dentist investors in these instruments,  there was Leiber who was thinking and thinking about buying out Schulz and for whose wife Barbara Rose’s Acquilla Editions - which Urizen was meant to distribute - I had raised the start up fund of $ 100 K [of course this stinking ugly Rose never paid me my 10 k agent’s fee, nor would her husband see to it that she did]; Cathy, too, loomed as a possible partner once she solved her Bus Stop Shelter Inc. problems; I also still felt slightly indebted for Schulz’s initial introduction of funds: the prospect of running the firm by myself, it was a lonely prospect for a while, I had not yet learned to dealing with loneliness; I was torn about what I wanted to do; I was going into analysis; I had dragged the latest great love home, whom I had met while under the influence of Donnotal, she wasn’t the Sex Pistol’s dream girl, but it was an instance of the male slut falling for the slut of sluts... and no one to warn me... No Lindzee, or friendly Irish Setter, Keith Goldsmith who was no longer working for us and who seemed to have realized that whereas I might have a good nose for books when it came to girls I was pretty damn blind.
It is funnee, a funny wrinkle how the firm actually went down. It was generating between 7 & 10 k a month, but Schulz had failed to pay the fulfillment service in New Jersey, imagine that, and when the fulfillment service’s owner retired and put his kid in charge the kid wanted to prove to dad what a toughie he was, so they kept our checks that went to the fulfillment service, and Urizen was out of cash flow. I went on unemployment. But just before I did Schulz, who it appeared knew about the “little black book” [actually one of these ancient dark blue ledgers I had bought at bankrupty 6 years prior, a slim one] came to my desk to ask if there was anything coming in. “No, not until early next year,” I said, to make sure I’d get the $ 2000 that I knew was in the mail. Thereupon Schulz sold the heart of the firm, its 12 best producing titles, to the kind of man who will buy the Brooklyn Bridge, my ex-boss Werner Linz, who might have been smart in buying the whole enterprise for the $ 120,000 it produced per annum, the 125,000 books and 75 titles that were in the ware house, and Schulz then kept the entire $ 25 k for himself: to obtain the underlying rights for Under the Volcano I believe [?], I used to think it was to get hold of the screenplay, but I have been in touch with the screenwriter, Guy, and that was not so: or for whatever desperate need Schulz, with WSK vendors besieging him, had of 25 K or out of sheer greed? Certainly not smart. At the bankruptcy hearing Schulz then claimed that bankruptcy law prevented him from paying our fulfillment service... and no one bothered to look at the check book [!], which I had been unable to have a look at the past several years. Urizen’s 250 k. debt was fiddlesticks what with its assets and cash flow, even during those 21% interest Jimmy Carter days. After I looked at the two checkbooks having been unable to see either for several years - Schulz even told our accountant, Glaviano, not to show them to me - I added up everything he had taken out, a cool $ 300 k. My work had been to fund the bankrupt WSK productions! Moreover, Schulz cancelled the $ 100 x-mas check I had given our last employee, Anne Hemenway...to give a hint of how petty and cruel we are! Christoph Schlotterer, who was the head of Hanser Verlag, now deceased, someone who kept being bamboozled, kept warm by Schulz – who had met him when I turned the Hanser representation over to Schulz - mentioned that Schulz and I did not seem to be speaking to each other, we were diverging so radically. Were we ever!
Since I had signed for half of Urizen’s debt to its lovely printer, the George Banta Company in Neenah Menasha, Wisconsin, which stood at 160 K [80k for me] I then managed to place the first of two judgments on Schulz. He turned blue when served and ran, and so it was an easy matter for me to pride myself on winning a suit, per se, before Constance Baker Motley, the chief judge of the Southern District Federal court: so can you if the defendant is so scared he doesn’t even show up in court. It wasn’t until the U.S. Marshal service attached a notice to the little Mews on Carmine Street where Schulz was holed up that he got himself a lawyer - and the only good one I encountered during those fascinating proceedings, a mob lawyer I think, Howard Pariser: my respects to you counselor in whatever circle of hell you find yourself. Another time Schulz was served was by a charming big French girl who was the friend and bouquet dealer of one of the clerks of Constance Baker Motley whom I had rented the room in the loft vacated by the Slut of Sluts disparu, a brilliant fellow fresh out of NY Law School who introduced me to the Federal Rules of Procedure! It took some real doing to keep my otherwise brilliant beagle from importing his bouquet dealer, I mentioned it to my parole officer, and we both laughed our heads off, one of the nicest men I ever met. I was beginning to think that the federales numbered some nice people amongst them. It was snowing all over town. However, I found a good use for the French girl, I had her call Schulz to tell him she had a screenplay from our French colleague Christian Bourgois, 10/18. Schulz immediately excused himself on the phone for not having been in touch! Opened the door for her and wanted to hold her coat - this impressed her to no ends! - as she served him with the notice to the Duces Tecum hearing at the law offices of George Kilsheimer, the nice Banta lawyer - who refused to prosecute for perjury as he told me! Surpris surpris! A hard man to serve indeed it was people of all kinds lying in wait outside the entrance to the Carmine Street Mews to serve Schulz!
If it didn’t turn out that Schulz at the first bankruptcy after being asked, by George Kilsheimer, the very nice but unkilling lawyer for our major creditor, our printer, the George Banta Company, whether any monies had been transferred from Urizen Books to WSK Productions, right after the hearing left a desperate message on my answering machine, he had been lying through his teeth during the proceedings and his brow had pearls of sweat, the mask was breaking down; I had been somewhat terrified by an actor, another little Hitler, and at the first Duces Tecum hearing - which serves to inquire of the assets of the party which has a judgment against it [mine that I then transferred to the Banta Company and eventually back to me] - when the two lawyers had left us alone for a minute - congratulated me on having won the judgment against him: now it was me to begin to wonder, a bit more than I had, what kind of truly weird man I had had for a partner, congratulated me on bringing him to heel: what did we have here? A masochist as Verena calls him and who, as Paul Sylbert so accurately put it, wanted to be caught and do it again! who also observed Schulz’s voracious mouth. But it turned out Schulz also wanted to be punished and then went through no end of pain and expense to avoid the inevitable. An unimaginable character structure to me at the time. Out of some Dostojevky novel. And he stole from Urizen’s debtor in possession account – caught there he never showed up at another hearing. He did his usual double invoicing at the Under the Volcano production, but I had warned Michael Fitzgerald, the executive producer, so Schulz expended his take on lawyers against someone who had been warned and thus kept close watch. What a man to have for a partner after all the other swine I had happened to get in business with in publishing, Roger Straus, Linz, Harold McGraw, the extortionist Siegfried Unseld, who at least had a vision. UNSELD, whom I came to know as an extortionist on the high end as Michael Klett then enumerated others. But compared to those worthies what an ogre Schulz turned out to be! Beyond my imagination. I thought people like that only existed in books.
It was odd how the firm went down for whose sake I might have become am even greater criminal than I did - after all, this was my “revolutionary cell” [talking about fantasies!], it was meant to be owned by its employees, and share profits with its authors [but not losses!], I nearly did a trip to Kali: after all, with a partner there I had the best cover, I might get in touch with F.A.R.C. and had a friend at customs who would have walked me through, one downtown friend actually did something along the line, and I even might have had I had the up-front money, Jeffrey wanted in, but you couldn’t get past customs with such an obvious junkie in tow. But Jeffrey in Heather White had the kind of girlfiend with whom you could steal horses, and if I had run the firm and met Heather as I did again after Jeffrey died in a car mishap that a junkie will inevitably have I would have had the kind of woman that Ledig had. When Jeffrey finally had that kind of mishap that will kill a junkie - he had nodded out in his Saab that had stalled on the Long Island expressway - Heather had been driving - and been rear-ended by some drunks and the Saab had exploded - Heather, as she told me, had kind of sleep-leapt, instinctively, like a salmon, through a part open window before pulling out Jeffrey who died within the week of singed lungs. [Someone who leaves comments as anonymous and seems to be a relation of Jeffrey informs me that it turned out Saab was found responsible for the stalling of the vehicle], but hardly for Jeffrey having nodded out or the car being rear-ended, anyhow, I don't believe in anonymous communication, they smell of cowardice; supposedly Saab was sued over the malfuction: no doubt the Saab lawyers were not informed that the deceased was so nodded out that he was unable to get out of the car on his own. ] Schulz screwed each and every one of the workers at WSK Production, starting with Olaf Hansen, Bodo Bear, and each of his vendors, and friends of mine to whom I introduced him, Patrice Marden, a young film maker then, and continued to do so with his Under Volcano venture, in getting Inge Feltrinelli to invest there who never received a cent in return. Why is this man alive, who has continued in the same manner once back in Europe? Aside what you read above, greater detail is available via:
However, I have also regarded the possibility of not ending up with the partner from hell, but someone who was equally dedicated to the survival of the firm; and that thought then led to envisioning, after all I went through quite a publishing churn during my 25 year in NY - working for McMillans as an outside reader in 1961, to the end of Urizen and beyond - what might be a feasible model for a publishing firm, and this is what I have come up with. Obviously a bare minimum of starting capital for whichever size you aspire. But let us say you want to have an all-around firm, you need at least half a dozen good editor, preferably a dozen, each with a specialty of one kind, whose name would go with their line, as is the case in France as a matter of course; and you would enlist those authors who had the breadth to be publisher editors to have lines of their own. At Urizen that would have been Susan Sontag, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Peter Handke, each could easily supply between half a dozen and a dozen books. Do that for a decade or so and U.S. publishing would look very different from what it does now. And what if there had been no Urizen at all: what books would not have been done, since the great majority would have found a publisher sooner rather than later.
I imagine that no one would have prevailed on dear Jim Stratton to write Pioneering in the Urban Wilderness which, even though down and dirty and over-inked, helped speed the inevitable gentrification of Tribeca; bankers and lawywers and traders who want to make believe they are living a touch differently, more bohemian. There would have been a first punk book for sure, altough not our Brit/US hybrid. Innerhofer’s BEAUTIFUL DAYS would have required an attentive scout, but it was certainly a famous book in Austria if not the entire German language realm by the time Urizen bought it from Residenz Verlag. Linder’s ANTI-SAMUELSON in two volumes might have had a tough time for a while in finding its publisher. But these are the only exceptions that come to mind. Has anyone done two yeoman projects, the three volume MARX/ ENGELS 19th century contributions to the NY Herald-Tribune? The collected Bresson screenplays in translation??? Paul Auster’s translation of Clastre’s The Guayaki Indians fairly quickly found a different publisher.
For the amount of money invested in toto - one million dollars by hook and by crook - too few books were published during those 6-7 years. What was left were 125,000 books with the fulfilment service, some titles in need of constant reprinting, that would have generated about one and a half million, plus income from rights sales. And at the end you couldn’t even sell the damn thing, it got so fucked up.
Double checking myself on the mistakes I had made - aside not going to a lawyer sooner than I did - I considered whether with a different partner matters would have been different and found that an interesting potential partner had actually worked for us for several years handling sales and finances, Howard Linzer. Howard, as a physically small person, had some compensating to do, which created problems in the department of small people, there was another such, Debra Emin, an intern via Bennington, and they got into each other’s short hairs, you recall the song “Short People” - udderwise Howard was a delight, he organized a fine set of salesmen and Urizen got out from under Dutton, he was creative when it came to editorial input, he even brought in a book about running that sold well, and took particular pleasure in a real send-up of a book, Sabbath and Hall’s End Product, and found Abbie Rockefeller, whose claim to fame was backing a mulch toilet, to write a preface. I might have said to Howard when he complained what a bastard Schulz was that he ought to buy him out, or buy in. Big mistake not to have proposed as much. Instead, when I heard the “short people,” Howard and Debra, calling each other names in their combination store room and office, my tack was to be fair and politically correct and intervene, in other words that kind of asshole, saying that I didn’t care for that kind of language in the office. Howard that day packed his things and walked - and Debra forever after was deflated not having anyone to fight with, looking for some kind of approval from me or whatever. She kept busying herself and attaching herself to one or the other person. Howard is a delight in my memory. Debra anything but, a would-be Toadprincess if ever there was one who ought to have been combed out of the woodwork right after Howard left! Look it up: Sullivan Street Press - one book, it is her own! “Scrugs,”
My finest hour in Urizen’s behalf was not the ride on the Long Island Railroad to Massapequah and back, or one or the other hours like it, but the evening at Un Deux Trois whose object was to get the Kalich Organization, you can find their website
as the unequal twins Bob and Rick called themselves, to pay as high a price as possible for getting out of their contract for Bob Kalich’s THE HANDICAPPER. The Kaliches appeared in my life in a most unlikely manner: they had come upon the Publisher’s Weekly pre-review for Michael Brodsky’s DETOUR, which, this being a difficult book to do a capsule off, P.W. had bought my liner notes hook line and sinker: would Michael Brodsky by chance be interested in writing a screenplay of Bob Kalich’s THE HANDICAPPER. Michael Brodsky might just, this ague ridden tortured being was working, in the usual symbolic perfection, for The Athritis Foundation at slave wages doing publicity I think; he had been in medical school, my son the doctor Michael Brodsky, prior to being hit by the writing bug. Have you the book, THE HANDICAPPER? They had a manuscript. All right, let’s see it, I’ll send it to Michael. They would bring it in, the clever fellows would, and they did, and I am only slightly exaggerating when I say that all 2,500 pages of THE HANDICAPPER, in various versions, arrived in The Twins front loader in a the kind of Kotex carton into which you could stuff an entire destitute family in Calcutta: the Kalich ruse had been was to get someone to read and possibly edit and then publish the box’s content. Thus prior to transmitting it to Michael Brodsky, who I don’t recall whether he read the book in any form ever, was to get me to read it, as I then did, and made a deal that I would edit and publish it for $ 20,000 k. Editing the m.s took about six months of interesting work with its impressive author Bob on his terrace at 250 Central Park South, at Columbus Circle. Bob was an ex news paper writer, the Daily Mirror, and ex-degenerate gambler - The Twin’s father had been a cantor, the mother the first woman to have an appointment teaching psychology at Columbia - who had become a minor millionaire as The Handicapper, on College Basketball, for the Jewish Mob, indeed it was, and its members subscribed to the book, it’s $ 20 K nut, in the form of checks, 10 k from its most featured member, and so on down; one thousand arrived in a brown paper bag from a pawnshop on nearby Canal Street, and as I edited the book I came to know each and every one of this clan, and perhaps one day they will walk off the set of the Darlings and Monster novel once again as they did off Bob Kalich’s novel and we into each other’s lives, mostly indistinguishable from others who had started off with push carts in the Bronx during The Depression, one that rarity a Jewish ex-Marine Colonel, the only one to become a friend, and a fine and distinguished lawyer in my downtown neighborhood, Herb Diloff, who gave them the lowdown on Broadway shows, and only one, Robbie Margolis, Frank Costello’s best Jewish friend, an immediately lethal presence: on being taken to Abe’s [Abe Margolis’] Restaurant, an establishment on Third Avenue appointed with the kind of wicker chairs as you can find them on the beach fronts of Miami- that is with a huge wicker shield at head level - Robbie seemed to stand guard and apprised this guest of Bob Kalich’s with the kind of scalpel eyes that will separate the flesh from you bones in a single glance. A memorable look in other words. I would see Robbie only once more, at the swimming pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel, we remembered each other. Bob, boasting perhaps, apprised me of the company I was now keeping, and who carried what kind of firearms, and their ethnic background. Later he once took me to Abe’s home on Fifth Avenue, all Louis Quartorze furniture, and who should happen to be visiting but if it wasn’t the king pin of the Harlem drug trade. The very pink and very corpulent “Colonel”, too, might be a bit beyond what is regarded as “legit.” It took six months to edit the 2,500 pages of THE HANDICAPPER down to its published 500 pages, and it was fun, I learned to respect Bob, and most of my work, aside providing a major story line to hold the beast together, to give it spine, consisted of cleaning the Augean stables of shovels full shvel by painful shovel of romantic clap trap about his fight with his ex-beloved, the mother of his child. Urizen typeset the book, made sets of bound galleys, and at the subsequent Frankfurt Bookfair sought to create an auction for a powerful book with some commercial potential. No takers. However, Urizen managed to get the for Urizen unheard of advance in bookstores of 3,000 copies - which is where the evening at Un Deux Trois - a restaurant whose table cloths were made of paper and the clowns provided the crayons for their kiddies, the parisian clown owners became good friends when they opened Le Zinc on Reade Street in the 80s - comes in. 3,000 copies is not what the Kalich Organization was looking for, and so they wanted out, and take the edited book to another publisher who had a more powerful advance machine, that might generate a best seller. I could not have been happier at the prospect to get THE HANDICAPPER off the Urizen list, but wanted them to pay the highest possible price for their out. Thus I put on perhaps my one and only performance, it was of insulting Bob with the amount of work that I and Urizen had put in; also, I wanted him to make a mistake, of responding to my insults; and for once I came with “all my people”. He did not break, he kept his cool, and the day after, Schulz, for once “the good cop,” had arrived at the absolutely satisfactory out for us: another $ 20 K for Urizen. Thus for six months of work of mine, copy editing and type setting and some sets of bound galleys, Urizen had cleared something like $ 30 k of the $ 40 k that we had been paid: by far the most profitable individual publishing event ever in the history of Urizen Books, and Schulz of course was engaged with Bob in some other enterprise, a casino deal, which did not come off. THE HANDICAPPER was then published by Crown and became a Book of the Month Club alternate, and was sold to mass paper, and on my last flight to a Frankfurt Book Fair, in 1980, on Lufthansa, the one paid for by USIA, I happened to sit next to the woman who was editor in chief at Crown, intelligent, good looking, and a blonde, and she unloaded a bit about the Kaliches: there had been a time that Crown, too, had had its qualms about what they had got themselves into, not so much the book, but “The Twins” and their pestering, how they manage to get in your hair, and these doubts had elicited some threats from “The Organization”, she had checked with her husband, a lawyer, whether these threats might be realized, but her husband had checked, no no one was going to kill anyone to have THE HANDICAPPER published. Later, with me on the West Coast, Bob sent me two further manuscripts. One made me rather proud of his emotional development, riddled as it was once again with sentimental clap trap. The other, A TWIN LIFE, had absolutely amazingly powerful sequences, however the beginning was all fucked up. By that time I not only appreciated the extent to which Bob and Dick had been married since their intra-uterine days, but had made it a point to read the great analytic literature on twinship. I struggled with Bob a bit, and then went back to a tack that had worked once. I thought I could insult him into getting the opening right. It didn’t work. Don’t fathom that well twice. But it was the kind of book where I ought to have suggested: fly me to New York and I’ll hold your hand and we’ll get it right. Instead the book was ultimately published, with its lousy opening, by of all houses, Kodansha, and has not been heard of since. Domage. But a powerfully strong writer, who kept needing a sanitation crew to clean up was/ is Bob Kalich. His twin Dick is a whole other kettle of fish: your forever sophomore admirer of great art [say of Max Frisch’s THE MAN IN THE HOLYCENE], and the author of THE NIHILSTETE and BOBBY or is it JOEY G., and PENTHOUSE F, a forever minor writer, but a hustler like his brother. They of course write their own screen plays based on their books.
Some Notes + Other Noteworthy Events
a] – Thinking more about my equivocal approach to becoming a publisher, Arthur Rosenthal and I once entertained a project after he sold Basic Books, and when at Lantz-Donadio when the representation of foreign publishers was not doing the trick, and Suhrkamp having made itself unrepresentable, I discussed the idea of becoming a full-fledged agent with Robbie and Candida: there were some things you could get done along that way, and I had met a lot of fine agents by then, especially those who represented foreign publishers. The influx of émigrés had not only changed the intellectual climate, but also that of U.S. publishing which was becoming considerably less provincial. Jason Epstein at Random House pointed out that editors came in with a high-powered list of writers – a pointer to the kind of musical chairs that is played in the current situation of high-powered agents, high-powered editors and huge advances, and the Hollywood-like side of conglomerate publishing. Any of that was most improbable unless I hi-jacked Candida’s authors! Still, looking back, there seem to have been occasional surges of entrepreneurship. I had met quite a few people in publishing by then whom I liked quite a bit, the aforementioned Arthur Rosenthal, Sam Lawrence, Bill Koshland at Knopf, George Braziller, Michael Bessie, Fred Praeger where my uncle George Aldor then became publisher after Fred sold his firm to Britannica and went skiing in Boulder. There were other whom I might have consulted later.
Had I had been single-minded, even half single-minded in the ambition to be a publisher I would have taken up the offer of a friend, way back in the 60s, to train as a salesman for Random House –and learned the ropes from the deck up. Instead I sort of knocked about and learned a lot that way. However, it was the unhappy experience at McGraw-Hill, linking up with the likes of Joyce Johnson, Lois Bermann and Stanley Aronowitz laid down the germs of the idea of a firm owned by its employees and sharing profits, not that original an idea, as an agent I had represented Verlag der Autoren [a German authors, chiefly playwrights, collective, that was created during the German 60s, split off from Suhrkamp, and I had been present at its founding in Frankfurt and of a lot of upshots of practical New Leftism.
b] At the Atlanta A.B.A. I think in 1978 I spotted the then notorious but now ex-Black Panther Eldrige Cleaver, whose Soul on Ice had really registered with me many years ago, and I had once witnessed his fascist saluting at Manhattan Hall, now supposed Baptist at one of the Baptists stands, who then happened to amble over to Urizen and noticed its leftist edge, came up to me, we shook hands, cold, clammy, and he whispered to me he was “just jiving” [no great surprise on my part], however I realized by looking at him, holding his hand that I was contiguous with what I felt was pure evil. Later an earth mother friend of mine mentioned that she had also slept among the thousands with Eldrige during her Ramparts days, and… “found him very sweet.” More earth mothers are needed I suppose. I myself was really a Martin Luther King follower. Atlanta had a highpoint when a young author of ours sought to find a place to go dancing on a Sunday night and the cab driver took us to the only place where that was feasible in Atlanta then on a Sunday night, the Afro-American Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, a huge dance hall it seemed and we were the only two Honkies in the crowd and were quickly assigned a dancing instructor. I felt pretty much at ease since I had lived in African-American communities, sometimes it helps to have a European accent, and the young woman seemed to be at ease too. It came down to a dance competition between the city slickers and the country bumpkins, I forgot who won the prize but it was a one of a kind experience.
c] High or low: Urizen’s first appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair, fall of 1976, I had taken my usual Icelandic airlines via Reykjavik, for the price of the tickets, and the delightful dottirs and the duty free store, to Luxembourg, rented a car and driven to Frankfurt, put up at one of those communal houses I knew, and Schulz with his long beard and still semi-hippie clothes and I with my leather hat and jacket kept getting pounced on by apple-cheeked West German border guards: even entering from Luxembourg and just showing the outside of my U.S. passport no longer sufficed under the circumstances of the RAF having abducted and then killing someone who had run slave labor in Czechoslovakia during the Hitler regime and was now the head of the German businessmen’s association. I was thoroughly checked out each time they stopped us, it was the German Fall, so we put on suits… and rented a Mercedes… only the former, and it sufficed to let us know what we had to do if we wanted to be terrorist abductors. But those kids as border guards, none of them even shaved yet! On the drive back in the Taunus, near Trier/ Tréve at night I called Handke in Paris from a phone at a turn-out, all the captured RAF member had committed suicide simultaneously in their various prison cells, I imagine I found this very disturbing.
There really are too many, perhaps the whole idea was mad. But two stick in my mind. Reading an interview with Schulz in the NY Times in the late 70s where he represents himself as the sole publisher and founder of Urizen Books; that is along the same lie as on his personal web site, where it says that “Urizen Books” which he founded was “sold.” Indeed, was it ever!
At one time I asked my father who happened to be in town to have a meal with Schulz. They came out of it with a strong dislike of each other; I may have had a long term unhappy relationship with my very Laius of a father, but I respected the judgment of someone who had miraculously survived his involvement in the 20th of July and his time in Gestapo prison; he had judgment about people, I had been brought up in a prison of my own but had come out of it as an overly friendly dog, for far too long.
Without being a publisher I very much doubt that the U.S.I.A. would have asked me to represent the country culturally for a month’s visit in Bulgaria. I didn’t really want to go, but none of my Russian speaking friends in publishing did either, and I couldn’t have been happier for the eye opener it was, also about the by the book standard cold war reporting that Auntie did there. I don’t know, the NY Times might was well close most of its foreign bureaus for what they produce. My vestigial Russian came alive in about three weeks in Sofia, I have written up this trip, and the subsequent most revelatory visit I paid Handke who was then living with the “big animals” on the Mönschberg in Salzburg, that can be found at:
The visit to Handke is memorialized at:
Besides those already mentioned in the account: the complete flop of three wonderful books: I know it happens, but it ought not have to Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s delightful and instructive Mausoleum ballads of scientific progress, nor to Dolf Sternberger’s Panorama of he 19th Century, and not in a country that allegedly likes a Benjaminesque materialist approach to history; it needed more work less than hope on our part; or to Gavino Ledda’s Padre Padrone, a wonderful account of Oedipal relations among Sardinian goat herders; the film had been a hit, we had a goodly section pre-published in a brief-lived but big magazine for Italian-Americans. Nada.
Most books acquire some dross, the way a ship’s hull does small crustaceans on their way to publication, rarely does everything go smoothly, or a first rate book falls dead on publication after everything has gone smoothly. I can think of only very few books that encountered no problems whatsoever, where the editors were in agreement, which encountered no production and design problems, where the endorsements fell into place as well as the reception and sales were commensurate with the book’s quality, and I don’t think my memory is failing me: Christa Wolf’s Thinking about Christa T. , Christopher Middleton, translator, which I did at Farrar, Straus; Gertrud Kolmar’s Dark Soliloquy, translated by Henry A. Smith, which arrived over the transom at my desk at Continuum Books [a unique event starting with the form of its unsolicited arrival, I forgot whether Professor Smith knew of my publication of Nelly Sach’s Oh the Chimneys, but that may have been the reason why he sought me out]; Robert Bresson’s Cinematography at Urizen – it is not too surprising that each of these books is a translation: each came with a history of success and acceptance to the United States, which limited a number of up-front problems, but created the possibility of translation problems.
Once it was all over I decided to visit Leo Feldsberg once more at his penthouse on C.P.S. Our last contact had been when it appeared that I might be able to buy out Schulz and have the funds to set the firm aright: he had called and asked why I didn’t buy him out too; he, too, was willing to take 25 cents on the dollar, but as compared to Schulz who had actually already got his entire investment of $ 180,000 out, Leo took a complete loss. Affordable certainly if you are worth 40 million dollars, but still it must have hurt someone who hated to lose a single dollar on a bet. To my amazement, he told me that since I had wanted Schulz to run the firm a few years back when Schulz was trying his great triple play with Klett, there was nothing he could do under those circumstances to prevent that from happening. I had clear forgotten to call him at the time and check whether what Schulz said was the case, or maybe object to it; I had clear forgotten that Leo agreeing to anything of the kind was most unlikely since Schulz had welched on his 50 K commitment on their film deal. Well, Schulz had created his own noose in several fashions by the great triple play that never came off. Leo said that he, too, had thought of suing, but then decided not to, collecting would be too difficult if there was anything to collect.
“La Lutta Continua” was a slogan long in use among the Italian left, the Brigante Rosso. In my instance it applied to my pursuit [Chris Sievernich would say “ah the hunter” whenever we chatted] at Schulz’s appearance on the West Coast to produce his second Huston film, of Joyce’s The Dead, in association with Chris who had been fairly apprised of Schulz’s methods and even so barely managed to avert a take-over. Quigley was the exec producer as he is on Schulz current project which has inveigled yet another German lamb:
I, finding NY York too distracting and myself too deeply embedded in a sybaritic life-style was living idyllically, after about a year in a true wilderness in New Mexico’s Sacramentoes, in the northernmost part of the St. Monica Mts. just shy of the preserve and Bony Ridge. I got in touch with Banta and they connected me with their lawyer in L.A. who assigned an ex-process server from Pennsylvania fresh out of some law school in L.A. to serve Schulz and collect and attach. Her brilliant idea was to strip search him upon apprehension and take every penny that he had on him. I did not mention to her that I thought this might not be the way to proceed. However, Schulz, too, had got news of my whereabouts, and one day I saw one of those really tough Mexicans [“When a Mexican is tough he’s like a toro” I think is the saying.] and that is exactly what he looked like in his beater of an Oldsmobile, at the bottom of Deer Creek Canyon, one of two ways up to my mountain lair, right where Deer Creek meets the Pacific. Our eyes met, this was a fellow who had recognized who he was looking for. I decided to take the other way, Yerba Buena, on the way back, an even more circuitous and dangerous road, sure enough if the fellow didn’t try to run me off the road in my tuff car, a 74 Malibu that I had converted into a vehicle that could get me through the washes in New Mexico, best car of my life. At this point, I had stopped equivocating: I served Schulz with a restraining order – easy again if your opponent fails to show; and a personal suit in Federal Court in L.A. Easy once again. Collecting is the problem. You begin to see the uses that the Spanish Crown had for what is now called “cosa nostre” and migrated to Italy… and arrived from Italy in the United States and developed all kinds of ethnic progeny.
During the course of the bankruptcy I had come to know the president of Banta, a firm through whose good graces Urizen had continued to exist several more years than it ought to have, and Mr. Bergstrom I think was his name, anyhow a fine Nordic name of that kind, was pretty upset about Schulz; to a degree that I think his board would have become upset with what he said I could do when I happened on an retired CIA enforcer and chauffeur when I moved to the Baja for several years in the early 90s. His name was Eggleston, a perfect CIA name, and he was the angriest little fella I ever did meet, he lived in a compound, as did only one other person in Mulege, and that was Senor Fernandez who ran the Federales del Camino in Baja Sur, at Rio Mulege’s estuary to the Sea of Cortez, in Loma Azul, with a German biologist suffering from a severe case of malaria acquired during her work in South American jungles, and she was his governess, she was “mother” and forbade him any further adventures, and Bill became angrier and angrier as time went on. I took an amazing trip up north with him right after a tormento tropical had devastated Mex I, as happens once every couple of years, he was a most extraordinary driver, in just a VW bus through a destroyed landscape, as soon as we crossed the border, via Tecate, and reached the City of Industry south of San Diego he found one of the Terminator films to get his jollies off, or maybe it was even a twin bill. I drove back south in my second car, a big station wagon full of stuff. Eggleston and Bergstrom talked and Eggleston had the o.k. to collect., until “mother” intervened.
Paul Sylbert, author and life-long friend, who’d met Schulz and noted the rapacious mouth, then said, accurately: “He wants to be caught and then he wants to do it again!” To truth of which sageness you too might subscribe if you read the “wanted poster” as literature of sorts that the “Schulz-Keil Hunting Society” devised.
It is a comet-like streak of destruction, of being caught, of acquiring judgment upon judgment. That society itself was formed around the year 2000 when I got wind that Schulz had done it once again, to one of his benefactors, a Herr Kaiser, a very important man in German film biz, and in L.A.; and so we all got together and exchanged information; and I am being updated periodically. Domage that one dimension I never found in New York whose depths and heights I came to know so incidentally, were members of the Sicilian Mob, who I imagine could do mine and everyone else’s collecting for us in Palermo, if there was anything to collect, as there appears not to be with Schulz having had to sell his digs in Berlin [he lived on the Wieland Strasse, of course!] but as the saying goes, never say never, yet what we would collect would be ill gotten gains. What is amazing is that someone like that is still alive. What makes Sammy run? Budd Schulberg answered that query very nicely, thousands upon thousands of Sammies started coming out of the woodwork after Vietnam and also invaded Tribeca, ruining it as far as I and a lot of the former urban pioneers are concerned, who didn’t know then for whose sake we were the avant garde, they would show up at parties before the parties began and devour everything, the hungriest of little birds. But what makes WSK run? Sheer rapaciousness, upward mobility with veneer to and self-stylization, the forever inferiority complex of the demos would not seem to be it. At about the time that Schulz got married and then really got going in his endeavor - and he certainly is neither incompetent, nor stupid, or ineffective, however lacking in artistic sensibility he is - he seemed to be the slave to being loved by “Crazy Helene” as she was known. Yes, Schulz really wants to be loved! My guess is by his crooked rapacious grandfather more than by anyone else, being caught and punished I imagine is the ultimate form of love for someone who totally conceals his visage. Fortunately, with all the unfortunate qualities I leeched off my grandfather was that even after being freed from his fourth concentration camp, mine was laughing again within two weeks. He would, however, never show his back either to his wife or my mother. I have no such difficulty, obviously. I once told the story of the life and death of Your-Reason-Horizon to a friend on the west coast and asked what he thought of a film called “Is that any way to run a business?”. Having a great sense of humor, he laughed and laffed and laffed and said: “Get yourself an agent.” A subject worthy of a novel. Here is Schulz in his latest incarnation, greeting as he would greet you from his disintegrating little baroque Palace in Palermo!
Names: Wieland Schulz-Keil
Photo date: 1 October 2008
date: 30 September 2008 Wieland Schulz-Keil on the phone in the Gobi desert Photo by Gerry Gavigan
Don’t feel obligated, don’t be fair when you encounter a Schulz, no matter how charming, if charming become alarmed.
To unusual events I ought to add the time that the Swedish author Lars Gustaffson
dropped by Urizen Book and wanted to be published by us and I took him for a walk on what was then “the landfill”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lars Gustafsson in 2008
Lars Gustafsson (born May 17, 1936) is a Swedish, poet, novelist and scholar. He was born in Västerås, completed his secondary education at the Västerås gymnasium and continued to Uppsala University; he received his Licentiate degree in 1960 and was awarded his Ph.D. in Theoretical Philosophy in 1978. He lived in Austin, Texas until 2003, and has recently returned to Sweden. From 1983 he served as a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught Philosophy and Creative Writing, until May 2006, when he retired. In 1981 Gustafsson converted to Judaism.
Gustafsson is one of the most prolific Swedish writers since August Strindberg. Since the late 1950s he has produced a voluminous flow of poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He is also an example of a Swedish writer who has gained international recognition with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson's The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.
The Death of a Beekeeper, written in 1978, is Gustafsson's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful novel. Eva Stenskaer has written that it "seems so effortless yet lyrical that only an artist at the height of his powers could've produced it." Its main theme is the agony of disease, as it follows Vesslan—a beekeeper who is dying of cancer—through entries he makes on notepads. The book's innovative structure allows Gustafsson to explore identity through its expression in a variety of forms: imagination, memory and even the mundane details of life. The book's central theme is revealed by the repeated motto of the protagonist, "We never give up. We begin anew."
Gustafsson himself has described it as "A book about pain. It describes a journey into the center where pain rules—and pain can tolerate no rivals."
In 2003, Gustafsson's novel series, The Cracks in the Wall, (Sprickorna i Muren), which explores the question of identity through the "cracks" or ruptures in single personality, was made into a feature film, directed by Jimmy Karlsson.
While the problem of identity has been the defining theme of Gustafsson's writings, his social criticism has often vexed the Swedish cultural elite. As a result he is seen as a controversial writer in Sweden rather than as one embraced by the establishment.
When asked where he finds his inspiration, Gustafsson answered "I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn't in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp."
In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament.[
There we discussed is not the right word, we seemed to be rushing – that is how I recall it, and I think we were rushing because I hated what I was doing - through the sand that the dredger had deposited in an area that eventually became the World Financial Center and has the new Stuyvesant High on it – when another Scandinavian writer was due to win the Nobel Prize, because that was the only way I could see that I / we might be able to put Lars’s then 70s work across in sufficient quanties as not to lose yet another shirt. That date we concluded lay some decades ahead. That was my way of complimenting Lars while saying no we can’t do it now.