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Rosset Memoir Is on Way
Calvin Reid -- 3/16/98
Announcing plans to copublish the memoirs of Barney Rosset, Thunder's Mouth publisher Neal Ortenberg and Seven Stories publisher Dan Simon made it clear that Rosset is both an important American publisher and a personal role model for their own independent houses.
"Barney represents the reasons that we're in this business," said Ortenberg at a meeting with Simon and PW at Rosset's loft. "It's an honor for both of us," Simon told PW. The autobiography, to be called The Subject Is Left Handed (the title came from a comment by a government agent found in Rosset's FBI file), will be published in 1999.

According to Rosset, "I've been writing the book all my life." He told PW that he wrote an autobiography in 1948, but then, "I lost it and forgot that I wrote it." That manuscript will be reworked and become a part of the new autobiography, which he actually began, at the request of agent Andrew Wylie, about five years ago. Rosset worked on several drafts of that book before Wylie took it on, and virtually every major New York publisher declined to publish it.

Rosett said the book will cover his years in China during World War II; his years in Cuba and his relationship with Che Guevara (he published Che's diary in 1964); his groundbreaking (and financially ruinous) efforts challenging the legal bans on publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer and other sexually explicit works; and, of course, Grove's publication of a long list of distinguished modernist authors.

Ortenberg told PW, "It's bewildering to us that a larger publisher didn't take the book. Barney belongs to a select group-people like Kurt Wolff, Alfred Knopf, James Laughlin. Barney's book will remind people of what it means to be a publisher." -Calvin Reid
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