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Thursday, May 15, 2014

rogerstraus=jonathangalassi???farrar,straus&their royalties!

http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2014/05/rogerstrausjonathangalassifarrarstraus.html

Dear Dana,
  • Since you transmit my royalties perhaps you also keeps track of incoming from foreign publishers - if not, you certainly know who does.
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  • At either event I wanted to make you and all of Suhrkamp aware that Farrar, Straus has arbitrarily halved the royalties - of one percent! - on some of the few (the six) titles on which they actually render them, that is on the at least one-eighth of the ones to which I am contractually entitled (as detailed below).
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  • I asked Victor Wernicki, (note cc and copy of letter below) who renders statements for Farrar, Straus/ Macmillan USA/ Holzbrinck for an explanation but have not received it, for how long this might have been going on, for it takes a magnifying glass to make the discovery in the fine print of their readouts.
  • In 1966 I signed a contract with Farrar, Straus & Giroux as Scout and editor for books in German. The contract called for participation on my part once a book had sold in excess of 5,000 copies and in the event of mass paperback and book club sales of 2 %.
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Things went well initially. Two of the first three authors were Nobel Prize winners. Nelly Sachs, whose OH THE CHIMEYS selection of poetry and one play and introduction by Hans Magnus Enzensberger I put together translating 65 poems myself; and a ten book contract for Hermann Hesse where three of the translations, done for the deceased Harper & Row editor Roger Klein, were ready to be published: Ursule Molinaro's of NARCISS & GOLDMUND, and mine of PETER CAMENZIND & BENEATH THE WHEEL. All first ten titles were sold to Bantam Books for handsome advances, NARCISS for $ 500,000. CAMENZIND and BENEATH THE WHEEL for 250,000 however I received accounting and the agreed royalties only on the first five of the first ten book contract I just discovered. I recall buying a Napoleon style raincoat in Paris and turning it over to author Peter Handke in 1971 when he was in need and was indeed already an early and future conqueror and how we (his wife and buddy Kolleritch of Short Letter Long Farewell fame, and I) were amused how well the coat suited him and how excellently he struck the emblematic pose!.
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  • At the same time that I made the so surprising discovery of the halving of the percentage this spring and then realized that Farrar, Straus had not paid me the royalties due under my 1966 agreement on the second five titles of the first ten book Hesse contract, all published in the first half of the 1970s and all sold to Bantam mass paperback for very large advances in which I was meant to participate, I had been bugging them, for quite some time, since 1994 to be precise, pay up under the second ten book contract.
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  • Here the five titles of the first Hesse contract on which FSG has not paid me
  • Pictor's Metamorphoses: And Other Fantasies 
    Hours in the Garden and Other Poems: A Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition)
  • Knulp: Three Tales from the Life of Knulp
  • Strange News from Another Star and Other Tales by Hermann Hesse.
  •  If the War Goes on: Reflections on War and Politics by Hermann Hesse (Jun 1971)
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  • The fact that I made this discovery - (while  attempting off and on for the past twenty years to get Farrar Straus to live up to our agreement with respect to the second ten book Hesse contract which I negotiated in 1969 while still in their employ, and which ten titles I selected) as well as a number of other titles (*) - that kind of  unawareness on my part shows, on the one hand, a certain indifference or nonchalance as long as my income suffices for someone who about 30 years ago chose to work exclusively as a writer and scholar and occasional translator. I had seen and experienced quite enough during my twenty-five years in New York.  That is, it manifests a peculiarity of editors who regard themselves as servants of their betters, the authors, and who far too often think too little of themselves. Genuegsam is the German word and although the word has a certain social acceptability it does not really signify a happy state of being, or how anyone ought to be. For one thing, these servants become far too easy to exploit. Since I did a pretty thorough analysis I know the two chief trauma whence this once characterstic quality derives, and also the first time I had a hint of it: in high school when I was extraordinarily impressed by young Bruckner’s gratitude at someone performing his work. - Meanwhile some of the fighting spirit - once engaged exclusively for author - now comes into play, if belatedly for myself who for the longest time had wanted to be nothing but an editor and translator, and to stay out of the thick of things: a modus that - however wanting to get some things done – that is, lay some fine eggs in the right nest - inevitably involves you in the thickets, and it appears that Mignons then can turn feral. It was the circumstance of not finding or being with the right publisher into whose nest this cuckoo could lay his accumulation of eggs that then made for the ill-fated Urizen Book adventure!  
  • http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2011/04/short-unhappy-life-of-urizen-books.html
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  • http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2013/08/wieland-schulz-keil-hunting-socieity.html  
  •    
  • About 1980 I realized that I wanted to withdraw again but it took a half dozen years to extricate myself from the so distracting sybaritic New York. After a year and a half in Billie the Kid country I closed down my NY loft, and nearly got sucked back in, but then moved into an idyll in the St. Monicas near Los Angeles, to complete a psychoanalysis and my writing projects - I was living off a small legacy and my royalties, barely enough but I needed not to take on any outside work except the rare translation of a book that enticed me, such as Erich Wolfgang Skwara’s The Plague of Sieana.
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  • But in 1994, with large section of my DARLINGS & MONSTERS SPIRAL (think of it along the lines of Carlo Emilio Gadda’s The Big Mess on the Via Merulana of mid-century N.Y.) and an initially unanticipated Handke project underway (initiated subsequent to the experiential event of reading his The Repetition in 1987)
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  • http://handke-magazin.blogspot.com/2010/06/handke-magazine-is-over-arching-site.html
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  • and a completed an analysis (in the sense that something of the kind is completeable once set in motion),  
  • the small legacy, which had allowed me to do the analysis, and on which I had lived and worked went poof, while I was living under what I regarded a near idyllic simplest rural circumstances and I had to return to the U.S. and had little choice but to interrupt my projects for a decade and resume translating, life as a visiting scholar, and the only good thing that ever came from being truly needy – and it turned out to be priceless - was the experience here in Seattle that made for WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH! Here a hint of it http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2013/07/precis-of-write-some-numbs-bitch.html 
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  • About 1994, Kurt Bernheim, my successor as Suhrkamp agent in New York, informed me that the famous second ten book contract ran over him. My various letters to Roger Straus to remind him that I had withdrawn because he asked me not to double-dip went unanswered. If I am not paid I cannot pay, that cascade is very simple indeed.
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  • Here the background on the FSG matter.
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  • In 1969 Roger Straus and I negotiated a second 10 book contract with Suhrkamp, the selection being mine, especially keen I was on Hesse letters many of which advised those who had approached him to find someone but not him as a leader preferably to become inner-directed (I made a selection which FSG eventually published with Ted Ziolkowski as outside editor). Since I knew of F.S.G.'s reluctance to commit huge amounts to advances I managed to get both parties to come together at the sum of $ 5,000 per title on signing, that is, a total of $ 50,000; and this was the one time I had lunch at the Four Seasons - the Suhrkamp New York agent, whom I had no idea I might replace on her resigning the account, was the Berliner Joan Daves, whom I much liked for her 30s stylishness, and whose husband Ashton I would later use as translator for Adorno as senior editor at Continuum Books, and I can’t say I ever paid attention or noticed that Roger was a chintzy tipper. I myself, having had barista-type jobs make sure to tip even when broke.
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  • The first Hesse contract ran through Joan, and the second, then, was meant to run through Lantz-Donadio, but never did – and the reason it was so delayed had to do with Dr. Unseld renegotiating the terms for mass paperback sales and running into objections, of course, on the part of Roger Straus – (ah the sacredness of a contract!)  And so it instead ran through Kurt Bernheim after the agency Lantz-Donado and I had resigned the account in 1971, in part for Dr. Unseld’s violation of his contractual agreements with Farrar, Straus of which he did not consult with his agents – the most experienced and sophisticated Robert Lantz would certainly have advised against doing so, especially in Unseld’s bull-in-the-china-shop manner.
  • Roger Straus, on the Bull  holding him up (the bone of contention was the mass paperback income split) of course came crying to me, and didn’t seem to believe that neither I nor Robbie (as Lantz was known) had the faintest. And it was I who had been instrumental in the introductions back in 1966, when, as Suhrkamp scout I had stopped by Farrar, Straus to express my interest in their list for Suhrkamp and Roger Cherry picker Straus had subsequently offered me a job at a firm that I thought far too august to approach. At this point I am tempted to give a brief account to what extent I was and was not experienced after six years in publishing in New York, but I will desist.
  • http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html
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  • Within the year of representing Suhrkamp, as of 1969, I had a call from Roger Straus saying I ought not to double-dip the second Hesse contract, and after consulting with Candida Donadio (who agreed with Straus if only to please a publisher he sought to remain on the best of possible terms with for the mother hen’s authors), I did so, it seemed to be an ethical matter, even though I realized that Roger was also saving himself his minute royalties to me who found himself supporting his job representing Suhrkamp - fulltime it turned out instead of the anticipated half-time - with handsome royalty income from the first five titles of the first ten book Hesse contract! Hesse, all around manna it appears wherever he manifests himself! And then elicits greed! And I, not entirely naïve to the articulateness of money, desisted the temptation to go to Bantam Books and sell the second ten book contract for a million or more and not only fund my unwanted agentship but perhaps edit them myself at a great salaire – no, I liked Farrar, Straus too much for that, and the idea did not seem to have occurred to the needy Suhrkamp or the greedy Hesse heirs who were prodding Unseld.
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However, the 2nd 10 book Hesse contract was not yet signed and then never ran through Lantz-Donadio, and so I did not even manage to dip once. When I called Roger Straus' attention to that state of affairs once back from Mexico in mid-90s he refused to answer, as has his successor Jonathan Galassi or Holzbrinck the new owner, nor John Sargent the head of Macmillan U.S.A. 
Imagine that! I bring a total of what is now fifty books to Farrar, Straus, they make millions, Roger Straus sells the firm for $ 30 million – and one thirtieth of that is certainly the VAT I added, and they cannot respond! Perhaps Jonathan Galassi, so heavily promoted by Roger Straus, over his own son, is just as clever and crooked as his mentor.
At the same time that Roger wanted me not to “double-dip” (in 1970) Roger wanted to take a kind of snapshot of where we were at in midstream with a lot of titles still in the pipeline, and so we did. It mentioned all the books on which I was then earning my participation  (but the Nelly Sachs on which I actually deserved  greater participation than any other considering the amount of work involved in putting OH THE CHIMNEYS together, translating 65 of the poems myself. However, Roger at one point said "we don't pay on poetry translation", typical as we now know of a fundamental not just chintzy- but crookedness), yet there seemed no need to specify the various other titles in the pipeline, such as the second set of five Hesse titles from the first ten book contract, the second volume of Handke plays (RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE AND OTHER PLAYS) all but They Are Dying out I had already translated (the first was the near best-selling then Kaspar & Other Plays), or published titles such as H. E. Nossack’s The Impossible Proof or Christa Wolf’s Thinking about Christa T. which I had acquired and whose translations I had edited but which had not earned out for me yet, or so I was told. Leaving FSG in 1969 with so many titles that I had been instrumental in acquiring still to be publishes indeed meant leaving as it were mid-pipeline.  One question that was never addressed was that of authors who subsequently published numerous books through that firm, of which there was one, Peter Handke, was especially productive and remunerative.
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  • It now looks to me, with FSG failing to account to me over these many years, as though this "snapshot" was a trick of Roger's (typical it turns out) to make the then status a permanent one and try to get out of the commitments of the original agreement. Roger Straus, it then turned out, was a man who while he deceived and distracted you up front, was tricky enough to filch the wallet out of your back pocket. There are other, grosser, analogies.
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  • I must say that at that time I could not have conceived of someone who was making millions off treasures I had brought him screwing you in that fashion; meanwhile, more experienced, it turns out not to be not that an unusual event. Roger screwed Bob Giroux who brought him not only great authors but also the kind of window dressing, the kind of suit, Roger had needed since the beginning when he affixed the name of a first rate editor, John Farrar, who was down and out, to the firm's name, first. Cudahy, it ctd. like that. There I sat at editorial meeting and Robert Giroux, like a banker in his suit, was suffering, it turns out, to the extent that the thought of Roger made him desist from writing a history of the firm. And where could he go with his great authors after having left the other half at Harcourt, Brace?
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  • Yes, do check out the link here to Jonathan Galassi’s review of Boris Kachka’s recent book about Farrar Straus
  • http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2013/07/roger-straus-robert-giroux-jonathan.html

Jonathan with the word "chintzy" has hit the nailhead! Tigers rarely change their stripes, no end of people had the same problem with Roger.
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  • Over the lifetime of a well-selling title that one percent or two can sure add up! Roger was looking ahead, saving small tips for the decades.
  • I lost hundreds of thousand by agreeing to be agreeable, obliging, and not pointing out the above-mentioned truth. It took analysis to make me aware of that quality.
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  • Had I been warned about Straus in any way, aside that I realized the guy was a brute who did not belong in literary publishing yet meanwhile had a great list and Bob Giroux's authors, great window dressing ever since he took poor beat-up John Farrar's name and added it to his in 1947? Had I had any warning that something might be seriously amiss aside the arbitrary decision regarding the Nelly Sachs volume? Actually I had. I'd gotten to know Cecil Hemley the founder of Noonday Press which paperback line Cecil sold to Roger Straus, about the time I went to work for F.S.G., but independently of Roger. Perhaps via Bryn Mawr classmate Paula Diamond who worked for Farrar, Straus around that time??

  • I did not ask Cecil how he had been screwed, and his son did not know, a fine writer whom I contacted to find out whether Cecil, who died in 1966 while his son was eight years old, might have made his unhappiness with Roger part of family lore. It's hard to know why Straus was so chintzy and foresightful of minute royalty payments, what with an estate in Purchase, a yellow convertible Mercedes, and his $ 1,200 suits that he never wanted to get any egg on while alive - he may have just been putting up a good front if we are to believe what his wife Dorothea says about the firm’s finances, walking at the edge of bankruptcy all those years, and in that respect like a lot of the publishers who lived from one list to the next until the great majority of them were absorbed by one or the other conglomerate – owned by the shark of sharks.
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  • Perhaps someone knows what termites came out of the woodworks that Holzbrinck bought for $ 30 million from Roger Straus?!
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  • I traveled to the Book Fair a few times with Roger I can say that as to "sexual sewer" that wife Dorothea mentions about Union Square, Roger was heterosexually what is called "rough trade", and I think literature would have been better off if he'd stayed in galoshes. Amazing in retrospect that the New York Times, via reporter Henry Raimund, kept treating Roger as a kind of oracle of New York publishing! That Roger Straus is bruited to have been a great publisher is only possible in the U.S. He never made anything of Noonday paperback line, he kept absorbing small independents like Cudahy + Hill & Wang but they failed to flourish. He ruined the flourishing publication history of Handke in this country which I recount not only in the above link but also here;

  • He permitted my nemesis, Michael DiCapua (who appears to have resented that my first two authors were Nobel Prize winners and that I was some kind of interloper golden boy) to kill some of my best projects, e.g. an Adorno reader that it took a year to fashion with Adorno prior to his death in 1969 and for which Susan Sontag was going to write the introduction – what a real difference in intellectual life such an event would have made at that time! Killed by an utter twerp who was even editor in chief at the time I did what Handke then felt was the best translation he had seen to date, of his Walk About the Villages. A twerp and ass-licking stiletto man as the now city tomcat thinks of him!
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  • Handke once commented how unlucky I seemed to be, you can’t be but half lucky at best if you end up in business with the likes of Roger Straus, a dofus like Harold McGraw, Werner Linz and my Urizen Books partners. Not that I did not work for fine people in publishing, Sam Lawrence, Bill Koshland, George Braziller, or nearly but then not as we had planned, as Arthur Rosenthal. About the only really good thing that Straus then did was promote Jonathan Galassi where the firm strikes me as far superior to what it had been; although it surprises the hell out of me that Galassi - fellow poet, translator, scholar - fails to respond to me in this matter, but goes into the no-response shell that I suppose the legal Beagles prescribe in situations of this kind. It is so easy to repair some of this damage, and as indicated above I am nonchalant in the matter as long as I get by, which I am not at age 78 on a yearly income of approximately 8 thousand dollars, and if it weren’t for a friend who puts me up I’d be out on the street.
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  • Of course, it is also a matter of principle, and that the principle meanwhile seems not to impress Jonathan Galassi or the other powers at Holzbrinck, speaks not well for them – I don’t know Jonathan Galassi, perhaps he turns out to be a chip of the Straus block and that is why Roger promoted him as he did.
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  • If I were in New York I would bring suit myself; and would sue for appr. one million dollars. I won two suits in Federal Court in New York and L.A. against a former partner in Urizen Books.  However, since he now resides in Palermo but I have no friends in the Sicilian Mafia and he has acquired a host of European judgments as well as has become even more knowledgeable in creating veils all the judgments do is accumulate the permitted 10 % per annum. - Those were the reasons that the Crown of Spain created the Cosa Nostre! A collection agency! That has meanwhile gone independent!
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  • There are terms on which I would settle, I imagine that that sum is to be found at the cost which FSG/ Holzbrinck incurs by not paying up, although I expect the cost is simply that of keeping one of their house beagles busy with this case as compared to another. Consigliere tell me that this is an instance where one could challenge the statute of limitations! However, all the monies in such a protracted process would go, guess? Thus one thing I can do is make sure that the world knows what Farrar, Straus and Jonathan Galassi are like.
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  • From here I have to pay $ 10 K just to file the suit in Federal Court, a sum I have not had in my account for more than ten years; although NY State court would be the way to go since the contract was drawn and executed there. 
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  •  And here a link to the list of venues and people who have stolen either my name or @ money from me in the course of playwriting - strictly as background material for a further insight into the Wild West.
  •  http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2013/08/mis-attribution-of-translation-credits.html

Very truly yours,

  •  Michael Roloff,,4616 = 25th Ave NE # 357 Seattle WA 98105,206-612-4576        





======================================
  • # 1]
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  • Dear Victor,
  •  
  • Having occasion to take a careful look at the recent royalty statements that FSG/Macmillan/Holzbrinck rendered to me I notice that although the royalty rate of 1% for my participation in NARCISSUS & GOLDMUND is correct, elsewhere, as for BENEATH THE WHEEL, it has been reduced to 1/2 of 1 %. Question is, how long has this been going on, and if I cannot trust the extraordinarily fine print there, why should I trust the sales figures? 
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  • I say so with special emphasis since under my original agreement I just discovered I have never been paid - in all these 40+ years - for the second five books of the first 10 book Handke contact, all of which, also, were sold to Bantam Books for mass publication at extremely handsome rates. $ 500,000 for NARCISS and $ 250,000 for WHEEL, CAMENZIND and the others, in which I also participated at 1%. These five books I have not been paid for are:
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  • *
  • Pictor's Metamorphoses: And Other Fantasies 
    Hours in the Garden and Other Poems: A Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition)
  • Knulp: Three Tales from the Life of Knulp
  • Strange News from Another Star and Other Tales by Hermann Hesse.
  •  If the War Goes on: Reflections on War and Politics by Hermann Hesse (Jun 1971)\
  •  
  •  Now we come to two other matters that are absent from your royalty statements:
  •  
  • 1) An accounting for the titles on the 2nd 10 book Hesse contract with Suhrkamp & 
  • 2) An accounting for the 18 Handke titles on which I ought to participate under the original agreement if they have sold more than 5,000 copies.
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  • About the 2nd 10 book contract there is this to be said.
  • Incidentally or not, of the total of 20 Hesse titles I brought to Farrar, Straus I am presently receiving accounting on income generated by five of them, which are listed as in print at the FSG/Macmillan site, as are eight (8) others, which leaves 7 important titles unaccounted for - are they out of print or do they generate income via their various once subsidiary licensings?
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  • Hoping all is well with you in the city of thieves, or shall I be kinder as I watch my crows steal from each other, and call it city of magpies?
  •  =====================================
  • # 2]
  • it is 1970 I've been at Lantz-Donado repping Suhrkamp for about a year and realized soon enough that there was much less there to sell than met the eye - and retrospectively might have checked with my predecessor Joan Daves why she was giving up the representation even with a very rich Hesse 2nd ten book contract in the offing. The truth she would have told me as I would find out soon enough was that Suhrkamp in the persons of Unseld/ but especially Helene Ritzerfeld were such pains in the ass that for nearly no amount of money would you want to have to deal with them for any length of time. And Joan, a Berlin émigré, smart stylish, had done well enough for herself repping lots of others meanwhile not to need that pain. Even now, all these years later, I get a complaint from someone who sees Suhrkamp rep on my resume, about  
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