Sunday, October 15, 2017


Dear Herr Landgrebe, et al:

Re: Michael Brodsky

& his novel DETOUR (UMWEG):


& the novella TATBESTAND
translated by Juerg Lederarsch

One of the two happiest moment in the unhappy and short life of Urizen Books

[the other being Sam Shepard winning the Pulitzer for BURIED CHILD] came when I opened the maroon leather satchel that the Peter Handke & Patricia Highsmith recommended Michael Brodsky left after we had chatted a bit and I took a look at the first page of the five within manuscripts and instantly knew that a writer on the order of Beckett had arrived at our doorstep & it was only a question of the order in which we would publish these five works. -And every time Handke appeared at my NY doorstep during those long ago NY days I'd be sure for the two friends to get together!
    The first book we published, DETOUR, then won the PEN Hemingway Prize and I sold it to Suhrkamp Verlag and Urizen managed to still get his WEDDING FEAST & OTHER NOVELLAS out (one of which was done by Partisan Review) and Michael went on to get the other works published by other small publishers, with Kevin Begos help and continued to write and to edit, now part time at the U.N., and has a truly big novel 
nearly completed. Not only did Suhrkamp acquire DETOUR the Swiss author and translator Juerg Laederach who became his first European backers translated the novella TATBESTAND and Suhrkamp published it.

Recently Michael and I, who now living three thousand miles apart have managed to reconnect and discovered that Suhrkrampf never actually published Detour, there is only a German Amazon claim that UMWEG exists as published by Suhrkampf and two isbn numbers as though a simultaneous hard and soft cover edition had been announced. Neither Michael nor I ever were informed of its non-publication, but for an excerpt of the translation published in Kolleritsch’s MANUSKRIPTE; no
copies or statements for EITHER the published TATBESTAND or the unpublished UMWEG, but after numerous e-mails Suhrkamp finally had their

Webeditor” reply:

„Dear Sirs,

your inquiry below was handed on to our department. Following your questions on a German edition of „Detour“ we would like to clarifiy that there is not, and never has been, an edition of that book published by Suhrkamp. It is therefore untrue that this book is or ever has been deliverable via Amazon. Amazon does gather all available data from archives to display as much data as possible. We can only speculate that for displaying the title of the book Amazon used very old data from a time ( ca. 40 years ago) when Suhrkamp indeed initially had planned to publish this book. However, Suhrkamp never did.

With best wishes,

Suhrkamp Verlag.”

Since Suhrkamp never informed the author, nor me as his editor and publisher, albeit of the now defunct Urizen, that they did not publish, we were left under the impression that the German language right to the title still resided with Suhrkamp which in fact would have reverted to the author many years ago, question being only how pre-publication of parts of the book in MANUSKRIPTE is to be interpreted, and to be accounted. In our view the
the German copyright has been severely damaged as well as the book’s ability to earn during these many years; what is the market value of the damage that Suhrkamp have caused? Why have their been no statements, no contract for TATBESTAND? Is the translator Juer Laederach to responsible????

Michael Roloff


--  } 

Thursday, September 07, 2017


As  in the case of the novels with which I was involved, 
the involvement in several of the two dozen non-fiction titles was often more complex & deeper. 

The non-fiction titles I translated or edited affected me at least as profoundly if not more than the novelists with whose work I became intimately acquainted – Musil, Hesse, Peter Weiss, Uwe Johnson, Christa Wolf, Hans Erich Nossack, Alexander Kluge, George Bataille, Michael Brodksy, Franz Innerhofer, Bob Kalich, Marvin Cohen,  Erich Wolfgang Skwara & Josef Winkler:  

1] DID YOU EVER SEE HITLER by Walter Kempowski

DID YOU EVER SEE HITLER is the only book that you need to read to understand why Hitler had followers, why he held such a  sway. I translated the book for Peter Mayer at Avon Books around 1968 and Helen Wolf did the introduction.
I myself never saw or even heard Hitler during my German childhood although via grandfather Werner von

I lived within one degree of separation of a man whose actions had extraordinary direct and indirect influence on the lives of my family and therefore on me as I describe in SCREEN MEMORIES the memoir of my German-American childhood and youth

and who became an object of fascination: I would have loved to have published Fritz Redlich & Ted Dorpat’s first rate psychoanalytic studies of this monstrous, wounded, vengeful war-trigger fascist.
   At Farrar, Straus I only did novels, the Adorno Reader on which I had spent a year reading & selecting and for which Susan Sontag was going to write the introduction was shot down by twerp Michael DeCapua after I left & I did not get a chance to either translate or publish non-fiction until my years as editor at Continuum Books 1971-74, and I don’t recall placing important non-fiction when representing Suhrkamp Verlag via the Lantz-Donadio Agency  1969-1971. For my publishing history see:

Seabury Pres, with its imprints Crossroads and Continuum refused to publish novels, I think George Lawler, also influential on the ecumenical Crossroads, was to blame in concert with Werner Linz publisher of both Seabury Press imprints, Werner Linz, a true shit it turned out to be who had sold U.S. Herder & Herder to McGraw-Hill from under his superior Frank Schworer who went on to found Campus Verlag in Germany. Linz was not one to stand up for his authors… the machinations in which you then get caught up in unless you do due diligence in a world that was anything or only rarely gentlemanly if it had ever really been.  
I became editor at Herder McGraw-Hiil upon leaving the futile and financially so deleterious Suhrkamp representation and did so intending to develop the equivalent of an edition Suhrkamp… that kind of paperback line that comprised current affairs topics  & historical analytic mixed in with more permanent titles,  had been in my blood since my early 60s years in  New York when some people at Collier-McMillan – Villacanja is one name that I recall - were envisioning bringing the most demanding books into American drugstores!!! Which Collier-McMillan eventually did, e.g. most of Freud was done in the most reasonable paperback editions. It was the wave in publishing that created Doubleday Anchor, Vintage, Evergreen, Noonday and quite a few other quality paper lines, a veritable explosion of knowledge furthered by the quest for knowledge that the post WW II G.I. Bill had created. Publishing for me was always intended as an enlightening educational effort, not that a few more year in graduate school, especially a Grand Tour, would not have better equipped me.
The McGraw-Hill effort came to naught because Harold McGraw and his subsidiary rights person Beverly Loo allowed their greed to be fooled by a fake biography of Howard Hughes and instead of committing hari-kari, as any self-respecting Japanese would, they took the million dollar loss they incurred out on their trade division, including my American edition suhrkamp dream which then, in minimalist fashion, had a vestigial start at Continuum Books with Larry Birns The End of Chilean Democracy, Stanley Aronowitz’s Food, Shelter & the American Dream; Sam Hall Kaplan’s The Dream Deferred;  DelaCasa’s The Devastation of the Indies; Christian Enzensberger’s Smut (an investigation of dirt); the two collections of Hans Magnus Enzensberger essays The Consciousness Industry & Politics and Crime; Paul Sylbert’s Final Cut; RITUAL, PLAY AND PERFORMANCE by Richard Schechner;; INTRODUCTION TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC by T.W. Adorno; THE INNERWORLD OF THE OUTERWORLD OF THE INNERWORLD by P. Handke;
 NEUROSIS AND CIVILIZATION by Michael Schneider which I not only published but translated to familiarize myself intimately with this the German New Left’s egalitarian program.
Not the worst start for a kind of combination of Edition & Bibliothek Suhrkamp! Regarded from that perspective, some titles were very much of the moment such as End of Chilean Democracy and Food Shelter & the American Dream, Drugs & Minority Oppression; others - Dark Soliloquy, Final Cut, the Dream Deferred, and Handke’s Innerworldwere perceived to have a greater duration.
What was fortunate about Continuum Books was that it had a Frankfurt School base with the Adorno/Horkheimer titles & a handful of Ernst Bloch volumes. Moreover, the Catholic left I believe had a home at Crossroad at that time.  All very Episcopalian & euconomical at that time. 
I’m leaving out the two-year representation of the Suhrkamp Verlag via Lantz-Donadio Agency where I don’t recall placing anything significant that involved the heart and mind as did e.g., finding a home for the Peter Weiss prose in 1965 where my efforts really were those of an agent more than editor or translator. Financially deleterious as those two agenting years proved to be, it was a great reading period that also allowed analysis of how Suhrkamp Verlag’s various editions developed. Thus the McGraw event is a kind of tragedy, and it is not all that surprising that the firm eventually got rid of its trade division altogether. All that under-developed talent at their various specialty magazines that I was planning to tap and that was most eager to be tapped; the only truly well-paid years I ever had yet not one book got published! Lots of NY editors had spent a well-paid year at McGraw! The absurdity of American corporate life, just as we had once feared it at Oakwood and Haverford when we discussed what aspect of the world outside our protective zoos we might want to enter and what to avoid.

THE DEVASTATION OF THE INDIES by Bartholomew de las Casas with one of those marvelous H.M. Enzensberger essays as an introduction.

 The Devastation of the Indies is an eyewitness account of the first modern genocide, a story of greed, hypocrisy, and cruelties so grotesque as to rival the worst of our own century. Las Casas writes of men, women, and children burned alive "thirteen at a time in memory of Our Redeemer and his twelve apostles." " He describes butcher shops that sold human flesh for dog food ("Give me a quarter of that rascal there, " one customer says, "until I can kill some more of my own"). Slave ship captains navigate "without need of compass or charts, " following instead the trail of floating corpses tossed overboard by the ship before them. Native kings are promised peace, then slaughtered. Whole families hang themselves in despair. Once-fertile islands are turned to desert, the wealth of nations plundered, millions killed outright, whole peoples annihilated. In an introduction, historian Bill M. Donovan provides a brief biography of Las Casas and reviews the controversy his work produced among Europeans, whose indignation--and denials--lasted centuries. But the book itself is short. "Were I t describe all this, " writes Las Casas of the four decades of suffering he witnessed, "no amount of time and paper could encompass this task."


POLITICS AND CRIME by H.M. Enzensberger

I continue to be amazed that Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s so intelligent essay work has never found the proper response in the U.S. It’s too intelligent I suspect. Susan Sontag much cared for it, but I don’t recall any one else right now. I translated the bulk of the pieces in these two volumes during my half-year trip halfway around the world and back prior to starting my new job as editor at Continuum. Enzensberger was intelligent company and highly educational.

SMUT (An Essay on Filth) by Christian Enzensberger
is one of the half dozen book I am most pleased to have helped whelp in this country. A fabulous bibliography which I a great reader of bibliographies of work that I like consumed in it entirety. I was in a University of Munich seminar on modernism with Christian I then recalled when we met in New York, but we had not talked then in fall 1956.

Drugs & Minority Oppression by John Helmer

I am drawing a complete blank how I came upon the Helmer? Who suggested this so important book? Was there an agent? But I published two of his titles.

THE DREAM DEFERRED by Sam Hall Kaplan was a pleasure to edit in New York with NY Times, later L.A. Times writer Sam Kaplan who now resides in Malibu where I then spent six productive years in them thar hills among some very crazy folk?! Sam felt abandoned since publication of his Dream coincided with my leaving Continuum to start Urizen Books, and I could not take him with me.

Paul Sylbert FINAL CUT
Having seen both friend Paul’s cut and then the studios FINAL CUT was a slam dunk for me. Great project to edit and have Paul design it too. Publisher Linz was not supportive against the pushback from the Hollywood types.

Great book about how a Hollywood film can be made, and then undone by studio interference. Fascinating to read now, 40 years after it was written, because even though Sylbert's point is that commercialism trumps art, the book shows that a lot more art got through back then than would today. Today, Sylbert's film wouldn't even get made.”

TRUTH & METHOD by Georg Gadamer
I only edited the translation, but what learning experience on the history of interpretation it is to read this great book paying an editor’s close attention.

INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC by Theodor Adorno is one of those I am closest to and proudest to help transition into the U.S.


is one of those books I picked up entirely by the chance that Continuum’ Lexington Avenue address was near the U>N> and that Larry, a U.N. officer for Chile, I think bumped into each other on the street, I think he had the papers that comprised the book with him! And it was just what I was looking for! Larry who has been running COHA for many years COUNCIL OF HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS are still in touch

Food Shelter and the American Dream by Stanley Aronowitz also was what I was looking for at that time of economic and oil crises!
I became acquainted with Stanley via Joyce Johnson who was the editor of his McGraw-Hill title False Promises: The Shaping of American Working Class Consciousness and Food, Shelter was a natural for the time of the mid-70s   I learned a lot from Stanley and his work. I forget why at Urizen I did not do a book of his, perhaps he was committed elsewhere. But we stayed in touch, and the introduction to Fred Jameson proved fruitful.


The title speaks for itself, it is a collection of essays and played into my interest in psychoanalysis and eventually I entered this amazing procedure and if I had done so earlier I would have saved the world!

Tilman Moser’s

Years of Apprenticeship on the Couch

also features in the precedings for an analysis of my own. Lots of resistance at the time – mid 70s - among American analysts. I myself now more than ten years ago wrote up my analysis as A Patient’s Experience of his Analysis.

At Urizen I was also keen on doing a Self-Psychology Reader – a hot subject a that time - but Robert Sussman-Stewart , this was his  original idea - had proved unreliable & I had my hands full and could not pursue this interesting  project on my own.


The idea for this reader originated during my Continuum days & took a while to get out since Gebhardt had a hard time then writing the headnotes to the pieces that he selected. A big success as an introduction. Volume II, to cover the Frankfurt School’s second generation never materialized for lack of editorial resolve.


came to us via our Trotskyite British distributors Pluto Press who would not do it, Burchett – from their p.o.v. - being a Stalinist, not that they woouldn’t distribute it then. Burchett was first-of-all a journalist whose political affiliation had allowed him unique access to the way the Vietcong fought.
There are a few stories associated with Wilfred’s visit to New York. As I as usual went to my corner all-purpose newsstand around 4 p.m. one of those days to get my sugar fix in the form of a Mars bar I saw Wilfred’s pudgy face on the cover of the New York Post with the headline “Torturer of US POW’s in the US.” I called the White House information office and was assured that nothing of the kind was true, Wilfred has also covered the Korean War, as what war had he not covered! The headline was the making of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian machinations against their  fellow  Aussie communist journalist Burchett.
I took Wilfred to Elaine’s to meet with American journalists who had been in Vietnam – now five years in the past – and all was well until an infamous Post Reporter showed up with his photographer. Elaine suggested leaving through the adjacent kitchen, a room parallel to the restaurant and I made the mistake of doing so with Wilfred and his darling Bulgarian wife, whereupon shoved me so that his photographer could get a shot of “Burchett leaving” or perhaps it read “escaping through the kitchen” and I called the police and eventually took Donleavy to court. At that point I had the record of his violent behavior from his days in the Far East and I read it into the court record. The judge said he’d give me a conviction of Donleavy on the order of having left his garbage can uncovered but I would have to bring all the witnesses from Elaine’s to court three times or I could leave it at having Donleavy’s record in the court record. As we left together - I had presented myself per se - Donleavy was accompanied by a NY Post lawyer - Steve asked whether I didn’t regard myself as fortunate that he had not gouged out my eyes, as he supposedly had in the Far East. I must say I appreciated his sense of humor. We had been the first case called that morning of hundreds at the Leonard Street court. Another Aussie who now works the Far East for the New York Times then wrote all this up for the Soho Weekly news. Indeed, Donleavy, a Kiwi rugby star, could have destroyed this Bantam weight in short order.


was a title of the kind of which I did too few, that is, a book related to my immediate neighborhood and the way I was living. Jim, an ex UPI journalist, did the electricity for my first loft, which is how the idea for the book originated, and we sent him all over the country to get a feel for urban pioneering, that kind of conversion as it was occurring in the mid-70s everywhere. The printing in the book when we finally got it out     was seriously over-inked, but I decided to accept the job anyway, there was something appropriate about smudginess to the subject.

END PRODUCT by Sabath & Hall
was a lot of fun to do, Howard Linzer, who was in charge of sales, took the lead here.

Rudolf Augstein JESUS SON OF MAN
was a lot of fun for the animosity it generated among the fundamentalists. The book has hundreds of typos courtesy of its editor Hassan’s boyfriend to whom he farmed out the proofs. And I failed to double check before it went to the printer!

Quarks : The Stuff of Matter: Harald Fritzsch

Provides an account for the general reader of what physicists have learned about the atomic nucleus, protons, neutrinos, and quarks - the basic constituents of all matter.

Was an editing translating job for my friend Martin Kessler at Basic Books. With all the background reading I needed to do it got me back to snuff on sub-atomic physics and the non-sensicals – e.g. charms + anti-charms! – that then entered my dream life since I did this work while in analysis. Mesons. Bosons. Leptons as leopards!

Consists of the trial transcripts of  Maurice Bavaud a would be Hitler assassin & translating the book while in analysis proved torturous not only for its parricidal theme but also because that period in analysis coincided with the reliving of my torturous childhood with my governess, as well as my guilt for not having “taken care of” the partner in Urizen who had proved evil, that is not in time; ambivalences, punishment, fears of being beheaded like poor Bavaud.

Wolfgang Roth MEMOIR
Es haengt alles von der Beleuchtung ab/ It all depends on the lighting

while in analysis on my walk back three times a week I would stop by “Rothy’s” apartment and we would go over a section of his memoir that appears not to have been published. Rothy – because he was so tiny - was a stutterer, he had started to stutter when a dog had seized a hotdog he had in his mouth as a kid in Berlin’s Tiergarten section. I think I earned back a third of the cost of an analytic hour in delightful company with tea & cookies! We met when he did the set for Carl Weber’s production of Handke’s KASPAR which I had translated.

During my Urizen days I also edited a memoir by Margaret Cooke, 100 hours for 10 k which went into the firm.

 Interesting work with a woman who from early on in life had been the prisoner and stunted into fragility by great wealth and a forbidding father. Editing the Kalich novelfor 40 k  meant that outside editing introduced a total of 50 K into the firm, I also subscribed to half the debt to our printer, the darling George E. Banta Co, 80 k, but failed to abort partner Schulz from sluicing his alleged investments through, etc etc.

LOVE LETTER TO JEAN GENET WINKLER I cover already at the end of:


Monday, September 04, 2017


In the process of completing my psycho-analytically-oriented novel BREAKUP UNDER ANALYSIS, a stand-alone part of DARLINGS & MONSTERS tryptic not the once planned quartet, I thought it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to re-view the novels I have been intimate with during my  editing, translating, and  publishing days or as instrument in that endeavor; a couple dozen some truly noteworthy works it turns out, each of them with a story of some kind, major minor, attached to its whelping, which is the case with every book in which you have invested yourself, a novel’s worth of experience in some instances: how you came to translate the book, whether you were happy with the result; how I came to publish or edit it and what was involved, in at least one case leading to one of the aorta’s of the Big Bright City’s HEART OF DARKNESS. And what lasting effect these books have? On my or reader’s or literature being – books do have effects and not only in childhood and youth. The most unusual being the effect on downtown Manhattan Chinese laundries of one of the two dozen!
Already at Oakwood School I wrote a story that indicated that I chiefly wanted to be a servant to literature -
Anton Bruckner so grateful that anyone would play his music that he paid the conductor - that is, an editor – as I was then at Haverford Bryn Mawr with the Review and then with Metamorphosis while free-lancing before getting my first job along that line at Farrar, Straus - the occasional good story or fairy tale, that once a year rarity, did not suffice for Hans Christian to put bread on the table.

THE PORTUGUESE WIFE by Robert Musil. I cut my translator’s teeth here and had the time to do the half a dozen drafts of this part of a never completed Master’s thesis, and published the novella in the third and final issue of Metamorphosis in 1964.
I don’t recall when it occurred to me that maybe one ought not to write about  a writer’s work unless one had translated it. But I still think it is something devoutly to be wished for in the improvement of literary journalism.

DEMIAN by Hermann Hesse
I translated in the early 6os for Roger Klein at Harper & Row together with CAMENZIND and BENEATH THE WHEEL, with friend Michael Lebeck, although Roger then wrote – I was in London with my sister - that he’d taken out most of the 2nd Michael’s changes. Much as a I care for DEMIAN (and quite a few other Hesse works) – DEMIAN’s projections providing the first inkling of psychoanalysis -(Hesse wrote DEMIAN while doing the Jungian species of that astounding procedure) and though I seem to be regarded as responsible for the 60s through 70 Hesse wave because I brought all these many Hesse titles to Farrar, Straus, I really was much more of a Musil fellow, and still am, I have that ineradicable  bloody scientific side and life would at the very least have been differently adventurous if I had followed my inclination to spend it in the company of animals in the wild instead of, a good part at least, in the publishing jungles. In Alaska I met an Austrian wildlife scientist who each summer went out find the “Urbeaver” – the original ten foot beasts who maybe had survived the arctic cold in one of the many hot springs in that also volcanic region, and who therefore spent a lot of time in the wild with animals for company it was an inclination that hooked up to the way I had lived to some extent  as a child and also to my then reading.
I came to Musil not via a literary route but by way of my interest in physic, A. Mach! about whom Musil had written a dissertation. Poetry needed to have that kind of precision! Later my editing of a translation of a book on Quarks for Basic Books brought me back up to snuff on sub-atomic particles and their quantum lives! Handke became so interesting to me lifelong because he has that kind of precision, also in vague matters – to be precisely vague! His knowledge of the German classics also helped him on that score.
CAMENZIND & BENEATH THE WHEEL had such an antiquated German style it created real problems for me in translation, with    DEMIAN Hesse became far more elastic.

LEAVEAKING by Peter Weiss
was one of the two books, the other was Peter Bichsel’s And Really Frau Blum Would Very Much Like to Meet the Milkman
that my scouting Germany in 1964 for Sam Lawrence got for him, during which time Uwe Johnson was helpful in advising me on matters East German lit.

Peter Weiss became a friend.  LEAVEKING in particular as well as its successor FLUCHTPUNKT is hugely important to me, for its theme of the difficulty of disattaching while achieving individuation. Peter survived in exile in Sweden, as did Nelly Sachs.
But to tell you a bit about me & Peter: in 1966 I was well advanced with a Vietnam War play entitled THE COMMITTEE HEARING – some SDS types capture the war criminals Dean Rusk, McNamara, etc. & conduct a televised trial on the basis of what a historically trained scholar knows that criminals of that kind always create, a huge paper trail of legal justifications for war, it had to exist and of course it then turned out to exist, the Pentagon Papers, the sort of thing that will convict under the glare of the T.V. klieg lights, the T.V. lens as super-ego you might say. But when the great - at the time Peter - MARAT/SADE & THE INVESTIGATION - told me he was working on a Vietnam War play of his own, I dropped my piece at once, but to be disappointed by Peter’s black and white piece that contained none of the contentiousness of the way the Vietnam War played out in the United States as it was reflected in my THE COMMITTEE HEARING.
Analytically speaking, I did not want to be in competition with the “good father,” the position Peter occupied in the firmament of my sentiments.
It was surprising that Peter’s prose work was available to Sam at Atlantic Monthly Press, since Cornelia Schaefer had acquired Marat/Sade for Atheneum.

I had already interviewed Johnson,  when Fred Jordan asked me to revise Ursule Molinaro’s translation. The interview is with Suhrkamp now, but the translation seems to have required further editing and was eventually published by Helen Wolf at Harcourt Brace. Johnson’s first three novels SPECULATION ABOUT JAKOB, ACHIM & TWO VIEWS are all hugely important for me, for their concreteness, their economy but also because the way political contradictions, politics infuses the language, I can’t think of a single American writer in whose language anything of the kind has transpired, and  now I am half as well badly read as I used to be.

What a way to do portraits! I can’t think of anyone who has done anything similarly devastating of Americans, though I think Norman Mailer certainly had the right instincts, the nose, to do so; there is of course Mary McCarthy’s The Company she Keeps. Nothing like Frankfurt School critical thinking training, is there?
I edited a fine Leila Vennewitz translation for McGraw-Hill for a beautiful editor who it turned out had the hots for me who, however, was all business, I was entirely obtuse until she caressed my genitals at an American Book Awards ceremony cocktail party! What a shame that I just didn’t ask her over to my apartment, for all these superfluous lunches that she scheduled! I think she later went on to work for Lord Weidenfeld’s firm.

The subject of editing, that polishing , that conscientious last comparative look-through which is often all that is needed of translations makes me reflect that Krishna Winston’s of Handke MORAVIAN NIGHT would have much benefited from that effort.

NIGHT by Edgar Hilsenrath
is a Romanian concentration camp novel,
that I did for Doubleday in one month -100,000 words for about $ 2500 - on which I got married; the prose is simplicity itself as is the dialogue.  Didn’t have time to do Edgar’s NAZI & THE BARBER, the more famous of his books. Grim stuff.

THE IMPOSSIBLE PROOF by Hans Erich Nossack

was the first title I acquired while at Farrar, Straus, and Straus did not like it, it didn’t ring his cash register, but then went into at least one second printing. It’s an existential favorite of mine, and became so also for a future friend, that great surprise, the author Dick Kalich.

Nossack’s The D’Arthez Case
Farrar Straus did not ctd. with Nossack after I left, but Joel Agee took up the slack with THE END
the kind of fire I myself once observed from a distance when Bremerhaven went up in flames in 1944.

Uwe Johnson alerted me to Christa Wolf and her The Divided Sky which did not do the trick for me – Johnson’s Two Views does on the subject of divided East West Germany - whereas I fell in love with Quest and Michael Hamburger alerted me to that wonderful translator Christopher Middleton who was teaching in Texas at the time.

Again F.S.G. did not keep up after I left, Siegfried Unseld having succeeded in persuading me to become Suhrkamp rep in the US for two unhappy years.


I did not get to publish Handke’s DER HAUSIERER (of which GOALIE is a direct and artistically logical outgrowth and which I had signed up first for FSG) at Urizen Books. Partner Schulz felt unappreciated by Handke who had seen through his dark side on first acquaintance of Schulz directing some Handke plays at Chelsea Theater at B.A.M. in 1971.
I should not that I then sought to duplicate Handke’s ability to transpose the reader’s consciousness via the linguistic sleight of hand of its initial paragraphs into the disassociated state of mind of a paranoid schizophrenic – a linguistic matter Handke had studied for this purpose, a state of mind that is refreshing for the reader! As opposed to poor Bloch, and is the kind of thing that Wenders in his film failed to achieve, if film is capable to have that kind of grammatical ability. I thought of moments in my life where I had been seriously disassociated and it took me a week to find the grammatical solution, and then none of my readers got it until I pointed it out to them. Duh! Upon request, it’s the opening of a still uncompleted novella, Death Watch.

BEAUTFUL DAYS by Franz Innerhofer

Innerhofer is one of two authors who committed suicide, which will not come as that much of a surprise if you read this beautiful book of yet another horrendous rural Austrian childhood. He came to New York and visited Urizen Books and I took him to Barnabus Rex, our shoebox of a bar, and it took some weeks for me to get out from under the depression that I absorbed just by spending an hour or so in his presence. Handke refused to give me a blurb because Innerhofer had remained the same writer with his second book! Judging other writers by your own pride in not repeating yourself is not the way to go, I don’t think, a tad too harsh!

LIFE OF THE AUTOMOBILE by Ilja Ehrenburg is a hell of a lot of fun, that dreadful person but pretty good translator whom I employed far too often Joachim Neugroeschel claimed to have translated it from the Russian!

DETOUR by Michael Brodksy

Wedding Feast & Two Novellas   by Michael Brodksy
Patricia Highsmith alerted Peter Handke to Michael Brodsky and Handke sent him to me where he arrived with a maroon satchel, and after he left I took a look at the first page of each of the five manuscripts and knew that I had an author on the order of a Beckett. And so I took extra care with the production, design and printing of the book and did something I had never done before nor since. Michael and I went over his manuscript page by page at my office, I think we did this on uninterrupted Saturdays, and occasionally I suggested a metaphor for a lengthy passage. But it proved difficult to buy Michael a cup of coffee! This was the kind of work which justified the existence of Urizen Books.
Schulz was not keen on Brodsky so I agreed to his tit for tat suggestion to do a book of Marvin Cohen’s
The Inconvenience of Living
who proved easier company than the so very intense Michael, as do journalists.

STORY OF THE EYE by George Bataille came to me via a most intense love affair with a dashing redhead; after the end of the affair, my heart was broken once again, I had to find out what she meant when she said “Let’s play Bataille!” and she did not mean fight!

This was a book with immediate consequences in our downtown precinct, and is the one that benefited the Chinese Laundries. I have a chapter in Darlings & Monster of some extraordinary filming of Bataille being played

BLUE OF NOON  translated by Harry Mathews

I brought along my friend Hannah, a statuesque, extraordinarily beautiful sculptor of cunt art, to please translator Harry Mathews who I happened to know had had a redheaded girlfriend of the same type  and there was that amazing moment as we we were eating at the sidewalk cafĂ© on Central Park South that Hannah spotted a friend and ran and leapt up at him, clasping him around the waist with her beautiful thighs! Harry was nicely non-plussed!
People do not believe me when I tell them that I never made a pass at Hannah, but I didn’t, for the simple reason that she would not stop talking about the painter who had broken her heart and which is the sort of thing that will stanch my libidinous inclinations. Hannah died young of breast cancer, most painful when the beautiful are so consumed. A friend brought her to the publication party of Bataille’s THE STORY OF THE EYE, at Mickey;s Lower Manhattan Ocean Club, that is how we met and so her meeting the translator of BLUE OF NOON I guess has something right about that.

The extraordinary Story that goes with its editing is so long you will have to follow below link:

THE PLAGUE IN SIENNA by Erich Wolfgang Skwara is beautiful work by an Austrian writer who has had the great misfortune to be published in translation by Ariadne Press, cheapskate idiots who don’t even send galleys to Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal, do not promote, do not render royalty statements. One of these days when back in Riverside country I will sue the shit out of those professors!

Skwara’s ICE ON THE BRIDGE is not up to his first novel but still interesting

but is the one instance where I seriously came to dislike the book’s protagonist and then the author for being a misogynist who seemed to go out of his way to hurt women emotionally.

WHEREBORN by Robert Schindel
is formally the weakest of the lot but would have had a major reception if it had not been buried with Ariadne  Press. It is fascinating on the subject of Austro-German Jewish relations during the postwar period.

Josef Winkler’s book FLOWERS FOR JEAN GENET made for a wonderful translation experience because the book make me love Genet & his work
It reads like a novel and is a fitting title for the transition to the dozen or so non-fiction titles that I edited and published and feel proudest of. I love Winkler’s work & translated his long  BUTTERCUP story that has become a test for me for provinciality.
I can’t think of any novel that was offered to me where I misjudged and turned down. Urizen had signed up Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in Highschool, in part because she was a truly local author of the downtown scene, but she pulled out and I had no regrets on the score, it was amazing that partner Schulz actually agreed to publish a book he hated, and we hated each other at that point, and she then failed  to pay back her advance, and repeated the routine with friend Jeffrey Steinberg of Stonehill, until she found the right editor in friend Fred Jordan for whom I had done a lot of work and who was the kind of Austrian who loved perversity the way  I think only the Austrians can.

I signed up Hubert Fichte’s DIE PALLETTE at FSG but my colleagues did not care for the book once the translation arrived. And I myself no longer much cared for it but one chapter by the time we started Urizen Books.


Michael Roloff September 2017

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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember 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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