Friday, December 25, 2015


​ significant 2015 postings @

A PROVISIONAL OBITUARY, WRITTEN UPON MY 80S, as Marcia & I agree, nonetheless there is still a lot of kid in me, and the four year olds spot it at once!




Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society
"Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben]
"Siena me fe, disfescimi Maremma." [?]

Thursday, December 10, 2015





The translator and editor Michael Roloff, born December 19, 1935 in Berlin, of uncertain health since fracturing a hip-bone upon a fall on black ice in 2013, is living on borrowed time with complications from C.P.O. {Chronic Pulmonary Obstruction i.e. emphysema} & the creep of advancing age, the wear and tear…

Roloff translated, edited & published a veritable Who’s Who of chiefly post WW II German language authors: three Hermann Hesse novels, 
including DEMIAN, as well as publishing scores of Hesse titles at Farrar, Straus; introduced and translated the work of Peter Handke 
(13 plays & one novel), and of F.X. Kroetz and H.M. Enzensberger;

translated as well as published work by T.W. Adorno, Michael Schneider; edited and published the translation of works by Rudolf Augstein, Ernest Bornemann, Hans Georg Gadamer, Gertrud Kolmar, Christa Wolf, Hans Erich Nossack, Tilman Moser, Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Dolf Sternberger, Franz Innerhofer, Norbert Elias & Christian Enzensberger;

translated work by Rolf Hochhut, Josef Winkler, Walter Kempowski, Tankred Dorst, Bert Brecht, Edgar Hilsenrath, Erich Wolfgang Skwara, Werner Schwab, Ernst Juenger (with Louise Bogan), Robert Schindel, Reto Henny, Heiner Mueller (with the director Carl Weber) and Robert Musil; and edited translation of work by Uwe Johnson, Alexander Kluge, Heiner Mueller, Wolfgang Roth; Esther Dischereit & the physicist Harald Fritsch
and saw to the publication of Peter Weiss and Peter Bichsel’s work at Atlantic Monthly Press.

 Among authors of his, at Farrar Straus & Giroux, Continuum and Urizen Books, were Georges Bataille, Pierre Clastres, Bartolome de la Casas, Ilja Ehrenburg, Suzanne de Brunhoff, Robert Bresson, Augusto Boal, Julia Kristeva, Hans Erich Nossack, Sam Hall Kaplan, Sam Shephard (five volumes of plays), Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Brodsky, Kurt Mueller-Vollmer, Marvin Cohen, John Helmer, Paul Sylbert, Martin Grey, Andrew Arato, Robert Sussman-Stewart, Eike Gebhardt, Jim Stratton, Michael Hamburger, Larry Birns
Christa Wolf.

In Roloff’s own estimate his best translation work was of the sixty five poems he rendered for his edition of the Farrar, Straus & Giroux volume of  Nelly Sachs’s 1967 Oh the Chimney’s, of Peter Handke’s dramatic poem 
Walk About the Villages (Ariadne Press, 1996); and Josef Winkler’s Ariadne Press Flowers for Jean Genet, 1995.

Among his own work, subsequent to leaving distracting and sybaritically pleasurable New York City in 1985, are a handful of plays and screenplays, among them Palombe Bleu,
BLT: Last Time Best Time;
Dental Slugfest,
Graduation Boogie

a host of postscripts to books translated for Ariadne Press;
 The Developing Account of Time in Baja Part I (1994);
the collection of prose poems
 the 1998 reportage
“Write Some Numb’s Bitch!”

A Patients Account 
of his Analysis (2003);
the memoir of his German childhood and American youth
­Screen Memories (2015);
the, as of this December 2015 Posting
 of this Provisional Obituary, unfinished collection
Downtown Stories;
and fragments from the novel project The Darlings & Monster’s Quartet
 an on-going online project devoted to the work and person of his scholarly literary interest, Peter Handke:
and numerous sub- associated blogs.
Roloff’s career in publishing -  approached in a crabwise manner since, initially, he was fearful of becoming engaged in commercial ventures - was marked by a number of setbacks.
(1)He had to abandon the 60s literary magazine Metamorphosis when its Hillsboro Books publisher, Michael Lebeck, joined a Sufi sect;  
(2)his two years as agent for Suhrkamp Verlag,
via Lantz-Donadio agency, was made unfortunate in that prior to Dr. Siegfried Unseld, head of Suhrkamp, persuading him to assume the position Roloff failed to realize that there was little of Suhrkamp / Insel left to place with U.S. publishers. It did not help matters that within the year – 1970 – Dr. Unseld had made himself unrepresentable by Roloff as well as Robert Lantz for being undependable in matters contractual once large sums were at stake;
(3)that on becoming an editor at the McGraw-Hill acquired Herder & Herder to create the American equivalent of the famous edition Suhrkamp, Roloff plans went awry when McGraw-Hill, upon the calamitous consequences of losing millions on betting on a fraudulent autobiography of Howard Hughes, withdrew their support also from this venture. A minute part of the edition plan was realized at Continuum Books,
(see resume)
 the successor firm to the also abandoned Herder & Herder, where Roloff next was editor, prior to initiating Urizen Books. 

Meant to be a profit, but not loss-sharing socialist collective, Urizen’s three founders, however, quickly fell into disagreements, and not only in this matter.
(4) Within a year of the firm’s founding Roloff discovered that the source of partner Wieland Schulz’s

funds did not derive from documentaries produced for West German T.V. but that Urizen served as the sluice for funds generated by the Schulz & Victor Bertini owned pornographic dubbing firm Vicland Productions which dubbed Mafia produced U.S. pornographic films.
One of Roloff’s failures of discovery of the fraudulent basis of the firm’s existence, was to consult counsel.
Instead, fancying himself an eminence grise,Roloff kept finding ways to keep the firm going despite the fact that it was being fleeced up front. Schulz then took over the firm from the two partners prior to selling its heart for the song and dance he needed for his film ventures.
From the Urizen bankruptcy Roloff emerged with two federal judgments against Schulz, which remain uncollected in Palermo, Schulz’s subsequent residence.
 In the course of these Urizen Books events, Roloff encountered a prospective author, a dealer in illegal substances, who at one point asked Roloff to make a phone call that proved to have been an act of entrapment and which, had money been involved, likely would have led to Roloff serving time in prison.
Roloff there-upon decided to undertake an analysis to find out why he kept he kept running into   
   “always the wrong people.”
(5)   For It did not help matters, as Roloff eventually realized, that Roger Straus Jr., the publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux,

 a firm for which Roloff had earned millions, then deprived him of three quarters of his editor’s participation which would have stood him in good stead during his Urizen days and those of his analysis.

The analysis proved most productive & was continued on the West Coast where Roloff trained to become an analyst himself, but then changed his mind,
not only because he was in his fifties but because the taxing profession would not have allowed him to pursue a scholarly Peter Handke project nor his own writings.
After seven years in the Los Angeles area Roloff moved to the Baja for three years & likely would have stayed in Mexico for good had the small stipend not disappeared that, in addition to royalties, financed his writer’s existence.
Thereupon Roloff moved to Seattle where for ten years he was a visiting scholar at the University of Washington’s German department, his focus being on Handke where he felt wholehearted devotion might teach him the limits of what he might come to know about one other single individual. This endeavor resulted in volumes worth of essays, especially on Handke’s dramatic oeuvre and the aforementioned on-line Handke project.

there atr also the setbacks enumerated @:

as well as Performing Arts Journal breach of our contract for my translation of Handke's WALK ABOUT THE VILKAGES
a breach with consequences along the trail of tears of 
"the saga 
of a God-save turning into Albatross
 non-reception of VILLAGES 
in the U.S.of A."
which I will publish one of these days. 
One other Seattle setback (6) was that the head of the U.W. Drama School, the now deceased
Sarah Nash Gates
nixed a Handke play festival that was well financed & had general all around and much specific support from the theatrical community.

Roloff’s parents, father Wilhelm T. Roloff (1900) & mother Alexandra von Alvensleben (1910), in the opposition to Hitler as of the early thirties, participated in the 20th of July plot and fortuitously survived their respective Gestapo imprisonment during the siege of Berlin in April 1945. His grandfather Werner von Alvensleben’s

 (Schleicher’s go-between to Hitler) alleged plan to call out the Potsdam garrison to arrest Hitler provided Hitler, in 1934, with the stated reason for the “Night of the Long Knives” with which Hitler eliminated the remainder of the opposition and sealed the completion of his assumption of his dictatorship. A friend of Alvensleben’s,
 privy to Hitler’s scheme, suggested to Alvensleben to spend that weekend at his hunting lodge, as he then did.
High on the list of those to be assassinated he was then condemned to death, which sentence was commuted to life in prison. Alvensleben survived four concentration camps and was liberated at Buchenwald. Reading an account, in 1947, of his grandfather’s torture led Roloff to resolve to leave what he regarded as “the country of murders,” and he succeeded in doing so in 1950 when his mother re-married, a U.S. OSS/CIC officer, Captain Richard Weber. The 20th of July attempt to assassinate Hitler itself occurred on the property of relatives of Roloff’s, and the family’s involvement in these historical anti-fascist endeavors colored Roloff’s perspective life-long, also on U.S. politics & nothing upsets Roloff as much as torture.


MICHAEL ROLOFF                                                                          
BORN: December 19, 1935, Berlin, Germany/ Emigrated to the U.S. in 1950; U.S. Citizen since 1952/Father: Wilhelm T. Roloff (1900); Mother: Alexandra von Alvensleben(1910)                                                             
EDUCATION:Graduated Oakwood School, Poughkeepsie, NY (1954)/ B.A. Haverford College, Haverford, PA (1958)Studies at the University of Munich and Free University of Berlin in 1957/Department of German,                                                                           Stanford University (1958-60)
1961-1965: Editor: METAMORPHOSIS, a literary magazine; / Contributor: N.Y. Times Book Review, Partisan Review; Commonweal; Herald Tribune Book World, / Atlantic Monthly, etc.; /Literary scout for Atlantic Monthly Press, Alfred A. Knopf;TRANSLATOR: RISE UP IN ANGER by Stefan Olivier (G.P. Putnams), DEMIAN by Hermann Hesse (Harper & Row);/ NIGHT by Edgar Hilsenrath, (Doubleday & Co.); Selected Essays in the Three Volumes: EDUCATION IN VISION edited by Georgy Kepes (George Braziller, Inc.); Ernst Juenger translations with Louise Bogan.TRANSLATION-EDITOR: THE THIRD BOOK ABOUT ACHIM by Uwe Johnson (Grove Press); /ATTENDANCE LIST FOR A FUNERAL by Alexander Kluge (McGraw-Hill)

1966-1971: Editor, Farrar, Straus & Giroux: THE IMPOSSIBLE PROOF by Hans Erich Nossack (1967)/ OH THE CHIMNEYS by Nelly Sachs (1967) (Nobel Prize, 1966)/PETER CAMENZIND by Hermann Hesse (1968) (Nobel Prize, 1947)/ BENEATH THE WHEEL by Hermann Hesse (1969)KASPAR AND OTHER PLAYS by Peter Handke (1969) / NARCISSUS AND GOLDMUND by Hermann Hesse (1968)/THE QUEST FOR CHRISTA T. by Christa Wolf (1969) / GERTRUDE by Hermann Hesse (1968)/ROSSHALDE by Hermann Hesse (1969) / THE D'ARTHEZ CASE by Hans Erich Nossack (1971)TRANSLATOR: 50 poems in the above Nelly Sachs volume / PETER CAMENZIND and BENEATH THE WHEEL by Hermann Hesse;/KASPAR AND OTHER PLAYS by Peter Handke (all for Farrar, Straus & Giroux);/JOURNEY THROUGH A HAUNTED LAND by Amos Elon (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1967).CONTRIBUTOR: The New Yorker, N.Y. Times Book Review, Partisan Review.                                                                          
WORK IN THE THEATER:1968-1971: Directed early plays of Peter Handke; worked with Herbert Berghof, E.G. Marshal, Peter Brook, Carl Weber 1970: PUBLIC INSULT by Handke (H.B. Studio, Herbert Berghof, director)1971 KASPAR by Peter Handke (H.B. Studio, with E.G. Marshal, Herbert Berghof, director)1971 SELF ACCUSATION & MY FOOT MY TUTOR by Peter Handke (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1971 THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE by Peter Handke (Lincoln Center,        Carl Weber, director).                                                                          
1971-72: Literary Agent with the Lantz-Donadio Literary Agency (representing Suhrkamp, Hanser, Verlag der Autoren, etc.)


1972-1975: SENIOR EDITOR, Continuum Books, The Seabury Press:THE CONSCIOUSNESS INDUSTRY and POLITICS AND CRIME by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (translated & postscript, 1974/CRITICAL THEORY by Max Horkheimer (1973) / NEGATIVE DIALECTICS by Theodor W. Adorno (1974)/FOOD, SHELTER AND THE AMERICAN DREAM by Stanley Aronowitz (1974) /DIALECTIC OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT by Adorno/Horkheimer (1973) / RITUAL, PLAY AND PERFORMANCE by Richard Schechner (1975)/THE DREAM DEFERRED by Samuel Kaplan (1974) / INTRODUCTION TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC by T.W. Adorno (1975)/THE INNERWORLD OF THE OUTERWORLD OF THE INNERWORLD by P. Handke (translator & Postscript, 1974)./TRUTH AND METHOD by H.G. Gadamer (1974) / THE BRECHT CHRONICLE by Klaus Volker (1975)/THE DEVASTATION OF THE INDIES by Bartholome de las Casas (1974) / THE END OF THE CHILEAN DEMOCRACY by L. Birns (editor), 1974 / A BOOK OF LIFE by Martin Gray (1974)/DARK SOLILOQUY) SELECTED POEMS by Gertrud Kolmar (1975) / SMUT by Christian Enzensberger (1973)/THE DEADLY SIMPLE MECHANICS OF SOCIETY by John Helmer (1973) / EDUCATION FOR CRITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS by Paolo Freire (1975)/FINAL CUT by Paul Sylbert (1974) / ECLIPSE OF REASON by Max Horkheimer (1973)/DRUGS AND MINORITY OPPRESSION by John Helmer (1975) / NEUROSIS AND CIVILIZATION by Michael Schneider                                                                          


THEATRE WORK: KASPAR by Peter Handke, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carl Weber, director, 1973 (Obie).FARMYARD by F.X. Kroetz, Yale University, Jack Gelber, directorMICHI'S BLOOD by F.X. Kroetz, Denise Gordon, directorDISTRESS CALLS & PROPHECY by Peter Handke, Nightshift, director Lindsay Smith, 1976, N.Y. City.THEY ARE DYING OUT by Peter Handke, Yale Repertory Theatre, (Lloyd Richards, Carl Weber, director), 1979 MEN'S BUSINESS by F.X. Kroetz, Nightshift, Lindsay Smith, director, Squat Theater, N.Y. 1979.                                                                                                                                                    

 1975-1981:CO-PUBLISHER, Urizen Books, Inc.; Member Executive Committee American P.E.N. Translation committee;Advisory Committee Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines; I.C.A. sponsored visit to the People's Republic of Bulgaria, CulturalExchange Program; PUBLISHER/EDITOR / THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL READER by Andrew Arato (editor)/JESUS, SON OF MAN by Rudolf Augstein / THE STORY OF THE EYE by George Bataille/BLUE OF NOON by George Bataille / LITERATURE AND EVIL by George Bataille/PUNK ROCK by Dike Blair / THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED by Augusto Boal/THE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF MONEY by Ernest Bornemann / THE RADICAL WILL: A RANDOLPH BOURNE READER by Olaf Hansen (editor)/NOTES ON CINEMATOGRAPHY by Robert Bresson / DETOUR by Michael Brodsky (Hemingway Prize)/WEDDING FEAST by Michael Brodsky / GRASSHOPPERS AND ELEPHANTS by Wilfred Burchett/SOUTH AFRICA STANDS UP by Wilfred Burchett / SOCIETY AGAINST THE STATE by Pierre Clastres/ THE GUAYAKI INDIANS by Pierre Clastres / THE INCONVENIENCE OF LIVING by Marvin Cohen/MARX ON MONEY by Suzanne de Brunhoff / THE LIFE OF THE AUTOMOBILE by Ilja Ehrenburg/THE CIVILIZING PROCESS by Norbert Elias / MAUSOLEUM by Hans Magnus Enzensberger/END PRODUCT by Hall & Sabbath / NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS by Peter Handke/BEAUTIFUL DAYS by Franz Innerhofer / ABOUT CHINESE WOMEN by Julia Kristina/ FARMYARD AND OTHER PLAYS by F.X. Kroetz / PADRE PARDONED by Gavino Ledda/SEX DIFFERENCES by Lee & Stewart / SELECTED LYRICS by Jerry Leiber/BABY THIS WAS ROCK AND ROLL by Leiber & Stoller / ANTI-SAMUELSON I & II by Marc Linder/THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER by Paul Milvy / POET IN OUR TIME by Eugenio Montale (Nobel Prize 1975)/YEARS OF APPRENTICESHIP ON THE COUCH by Tilman Moser / SARTRE BY HIMSELF by Jean Paul Sartre/ THE RAILWAY JOURNEY by Wolfgang Schivelbusch / ANGEL CITY AND OTHER PLAYS +BURIED CHILD & OTHER PLAYS + CHICAGO & OTHER PLAYS; FOUR TWO ACT PLAYS + THE UNSEEN HAND & OTHER PLAYS by Sam Shepard/INSIDE EAST GERMANY by Jonathan Steele / THE USSR VERSUS DR. MIKHAIL STERN by August Stern/PANORAMA OF THE 19TH CENTURY by Dolf Sternberger / PIONEERING IN THE URBAN WILDERNESS by Jim Stratton                                                                           

1982---: Free Lance Writer, Editor, Screenwriter, Playwright, Translator SCREENPLAYS:Feelings (adaptation/translation) Transatlantic; 1982 / Darlings & Monsters, 1983/Boogie [a.k.a. The Graduation Party] 1991 / Dream Icarus l994/ WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH! 2008/ in progress: IN THE CUTTING ROOM /  PLAYS: The Wolves of Wyoming, 1984 / Palombe Bleu 1985 / Schizzohawk, 1986/B.L.T. or: The Last Time Can Be the Best Time 1987-9 / He/She, The Creature S.U./J.C./ 1989/...IT WON'T GROW BACK, 1989 {First Stage, L.A.] /  in progress; The Darlings & Monster Play. BALZAC'S GODOT, an adaptation of Le Faiseur, 1995

NON-FICTION: WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH! [Adventures in Telemarketing]In progress: THE HANDKE PROJECT including psycho-analytic-linguistic, drama and prose monographs, which can be seen at:  THE FOLLOWING SITES AND BLOGSSCRIPTMANIA PROJECT MAIN SITE: 
and 12 sub-sites [the drama lecture]
[dem handke auf die schliche/ prosa, a book of mine about Handke, in German] [the current American Scholar caused controversy about Handke, reviews, detailed of Coury/Pilipp's THE WORKS OF PETER HANDKE, review of CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS, PART I OF A PSYCHOANALYTIC MONOGRAPH][some handke material, too, the Milosevic controversy summarized] MAIN LINK TO ALL THIS MATERIAL AND MORE IS: progress: THE DEVELOPING ACCOUNT OF TIME IN BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR [Part I completed.] FICTION:in progress: The Darlings and Monsters Spiral /1944-47  The Idllic Years[No Irony]/:    POETRY: Headshots (1985) / It Won't Grow Back (1985)/ Steeped in Seattle [prose poems and sketches] 2008 / POLY-GLOT-POLITICAL [in progress]THEATRE-WORK: Recording of an adaptation of RADIO PLAY I by Peter Handke, Theatre for Your Mother, Mark Lutvak, director,1981FARMYARD by F.X. Kroetz, Theatre for the New City, Larry Sacharov, director,1981MICHI'S BLOOD by F.X. Kroetz, Taller Latinamericano/ Creation Productions, Mark Lutvak, director, 1982 /THEY ARE DYING OUT by Peter Handke, B.B.C. recording, Penny Gold director, 1983/ THEY ARE DYING OUT by Peter Handke, Provincetown Theatre, Lynn Holst artistic director, Mark Lutvak, director, 1983/FERNANDO KRAPP WROTE ME THIS LETTER by Tankred Dorst [based on Unamuno's Nothing Less Than a Man] Premiere, Seattle 1996, [published in German Theater Contemporary, Carl Weber, editor, Johns Hopkins University Press./ EDITORES KOMMT ALLES AUF DAS LICHT AN by Wolfgang Roth, 1983 / HAMLET MACHINE AND OTHER PLAYS by Heiner Mueller for Carl Weber, (Translation editing), P.A.J. Press, 1984A TWIN LIFE by Robert Kalich l994.TRANSLATOR: The Imaginary Photo Museum by Fritz Gruber (Harmony Books), 1982
QUARKS by Harald Fritsch (with the author), Basic Books 1983 / TELL 38, by Rolf Hochhut (Little, Brown), 1984/ DESCRIPTION OF A PICTURE by Heiner Mueller (with Carl Weber), 1985 , P.A.J. Press, 1989./THE PLAGUE IN SIENA by Erich Wolfgang Skwara, with after word, Ariadne Press, 1993/ WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES by Peter Handke, Ariadne Press l994, with an essay postscript & notes./WHERE-BORN by Robert Schindel, with after word, Ariadne Press, 1994 / CHARADE by Christian Zauner, with after word, Ariadne Press, 1993/FLOWERS FOR JEAN GENET by Josef Winkler 1994, Ariadne Press/ OHNE LEITBILD by Theodor Adorno, Columbia University Press, 1995 / DIE NORMALITAET EINER BERLINER REPUBLIK by Juergen Habermas, Nebraska University Press, 1996/ SPRING-TIME by Reto Henny, 1997, privately published /COLLECTED PLAYS of Peter Handke, Volume I, Methuen, 1997/ Butterblumen by Josef Winkler, Salzburg Festival Catalog, Residenz Verlag 2008
DEVELOPING ACCOUNT OF TIME IN BAJA CALIFORNIA PART I, 1995/LOVE LETTER TO JERRY LEIBER, 1996/ WRITE SOME NUMB'S BITCH: Adventures in Telemarketing, 2000/ A PATIENT'S EXPERIENCE OF HIS ANALYSES, 2003  CONTRIBUTOR: /The Los Angeles Times Book Review, St. Monica Review, The Jewish Journal, Los Angeles [contributing editor]; / The Austrian Symposium, U.C. Riverside; Ariadne Press;Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Society/ 1996 – 2006 Visiting Scholar, Department of German, University of Washington,  

2010 UPDATE... The Handke Project is nearing the completion of needing to be sorted out,
only a few more long pieces to write, unless he writes another biggie of course, reread the last two volumes of his diaries, an essay on his poetics, on his development as a prose writer....
i delved around the publishing past last year and wrote it up in three takes, starting with my association with Farrar, straus, then, in German the complex relationship with Suhrkamp and authors, and then a history of urizen books. all on line at this site. right now, i am writing in German 1944-50 DIE IDYLLISCHEN JAHRE: KEINE IRONIE. DECKERINNERUNGEN. Ought to be done by mid year, at whic point we will turn back to the New York novel, many parts of which puzzle exist...m.r. feb '10

update 2015

Sunday, December 06, 2015

OPEN LETTER TO ROGER STRAUS III re FSG contractual obligations

Dear Rog,
I have made a variety of attempts to persuade your father’s successors to make good on the contract I drew with him in 1966 that called for 1 % participation of mine on income exceeding a sale of 5,000 copies, as well as from mass paperback sales. However, to no avail. Jonathan Galassi does not even respond to letters asking why, e.g. this minimal royalty is being arbitrarily halved, as it has been on occasion, or why I don’t receive royalties on titles that I ought to; nor does Victor Wernicki, the McMillan fellow in charge of royalty payments for the now Holzbrink U.S. conglomerate.
for all this]

 As I have pointed out repeatedly, trying to be as ethical as I possibly could, I agreed to forego my income from the second ten book Hesse contract when your father called me at Lantz, Donadio in 1970 - he claimed I was “double-dipping”, that is, deriving income from the same source though at different locations. Candida agreed with him. It ultimately turned out that I never even single-dipped, since the second Hesse ten book contract was ultimately transacted through my successor as Suhrkamp agent, Kurt Bernheim.

I pointed out as much to your father in correspondence during the 90s, while he was still alive, he never even deigned to reply – and if he had replied what, after all, could he have said? Now that we have Boris Kachka’s Hothouse, the biography of the firm, it becomes evident why Roger - Galassi describes him a chintzy tipper  was so keen on each and every percentage point. Funnee thing about me at the moment of that 1970 call and whatever thought I gave to assenting to his ethically coded request, I not only knew from Cecil Hemley [who had sold Noonday to your father] that he had been screwed (though I might have asked for the details, Cecil’s son, Robin, a writer, a kid when his father passed away, does not know the details).                          Not only that, there had been the moment that Roger called me, while I was still working for him, and stated that he did not pay on poetry translations – he was referring to the Nelly Sachs volume OH THE CHIMNEYS, a Nobel Prize winner book that I had the option on at the time of the awards & managed to assemble and also translated 65 poems of (an act of mourning that wiped me out emotionally for a year which is why I did not want to translate any part of the second volume of Nelly Sachs poems that we put out), within the year of her receiving the prize.                 I imagine that was the first time that this wus might have objected to such high-handed fiat, which entirely disregarded the contractual arrangements; or I might have handed these affairs over to my agent Max Becker. (Roger’s once statement that the “time had come to hustle’s Nelly’s ass” the part of me that enjoyed his Runonyesque personality was able to abide and put off to that quality of his, though the idea was certainly so crude and preposterous that it evidently left a sharp imprint in the memory pad).
   At the same time that Roger persuaded me to forego a future double-dip where not a single scoo transpired, he made a suggestion that seemed to make eminently good sense: to list the books on which I was then, in 1970, receiving royalties, and they were immediately very handsome on the five Hesse titles then in print as you will recall, and this proposition seemed indeed to allay whatever anxieties about Roger’s financial probity might have lain too far in back of my mind. However, it appears that the interpretation of that document seems to be that all the then contracted books through me, that had not yet been published, then did not pay the royalties to me! For example, I discovered only within the last two years that I had never received an accounting for the second five Hesse titles of the first ten book Hesse contract, which all sold in the tens of thousands and were sold to Bantam for sums of about 250,000, as were those of the second ten book contract. Nor did I ever receive accounting or my share for the Christa Wolf Thinking about Christa Wolf, or H.E. Nossack’s The Impossible Proof, once these titles exceeded their threshold. Nor for the much later -1979- published 2dn volume of Handke dramas Ride Across Lake Constance & Other Plays.
   To have had the income I was deprived of would have made a huge difference in my life in publishing during the 70s to mid-80s. I expect Urizen would not have gone the way it did – and I will gladly elaborate on that above and beyond what you can glean at

It turns out your father was not just a crude brute, but a tricky one! Who would have known! Not this person who during our first trip to Frankfurt together became very much aware of certain hard core tastes of his
     Since you did not wish to continue in publishing but preferred your career in photography – if I have that story right? - Roger then sold F.S.G. for I hear $ 30 Million to Holzbrink. My contribution to that sum is certainly one 30th, (I am not including the subsequent Handke volumes that came within the wake of my bringing Handke to F.S.G.) for the value that the Hesse titles added, which, for all I know, proved essential for the tenuous firm’s survival during the 20 years of their hey-day. Thus the Straus estate owes me, doesn’t it? And you are in a position I imagine, perhaps mistakenly, to somewhat redeem the stain that your father, always so keen for not a smudge to appear on his $ 1,200 multi-ply suits, to act as a stain remover.  And I wouldn’t ask or demand if my other sources had not all turned sour. Most of this lost income falls under the statute of limitation, so the legal beagles inform me, and since the 20 Hesse titles meanwhile earn less than $ 1,000 @ 1 % per annum it becomes a matter for small claims in New York & not worth the trip. Meanwhile I will be 80 in a few more weeks, but lack the funds to repair my ancient canines!
   Hoping that this finds you well & looking forward to a reply, I remain very truly yours, Michael Roloff

Saturday, October 31, 2015


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

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

Friday, October 09, 2015


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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