Below find my response to:
Dear Mr. Roloff,
I am a writer and journalist working on a book about the history of Farrar, Straus and Giroux--focusing mainly on its complicated founder, Roger Straus, and the editors who worked there. I would very much like to speak to you about your experience at the company, about your interactions with Straus and various editors, and about your very important role in bringing Hermann Hesse and other foreign writers to FSG. Please let me know if you would have some time to set up a telephone interview. I'm generally available later in the week (I work part time at New York Magazine), but I'm very flexible. I would like to get to the unvarnished truth about Farrar, Straus, and I believe you would be an important person to speak with. My contact information is below. Thank you very much for your time and attention.
Work (NY Magazine, Mon.-Wed.): 212-508-0795
Home Office (Thurs.-Sun.):
# 1 ]- How I came to work for F.S&G. in the first place.
The short answer is: I went by their shop on Union Square in 1996 as the literary scout for Suhrkamp Verlag
then and still the world's most interesting all around cultural publishing house, George Steiner coined the phrase "Suhrkamp Kultur"
kultchur with several capital KKKs, which was being built into that kind of power house by the sort of fellow who would swim
across the Black sea in the morning and the Caspian in the afternoon, dr. Siegfried U-Unseld
and as I made ready to leave I was offered a job as their editor for German books.
I would never have thought I could get any kind of job there, and for the time being it was perfect.[I had got married that year, Frank Conroy for many years my best friend, and Michael Lebeck were best men. Wedding meal at Elaine's] and a somewhat steadier income seemed needed. My wife was far more accomplished than I, as a painter and fashion illustrator and teacher at Parsons.
I had tried to get a job with Viking because I had met Aaron Asher through Frank Conroy whose editor he was on STOP TIME. Aaron took me to lunch and ran their about to be published attack on the Warren Commission report on the Kennedy Assassination by me, I think I was meant to go "ooh" "ahh" - what a sensation that will be. I didn't go ooh aahh, the report seemed pretty convincing to me, I lacked the commercial touch I think was his conclusion. I did not see Aaron when he was editor in jefe at FS + G. and have no idea how matters went, Phyllis Seidel might, who I believe lives somewhere in the South of France, but neither her class mate Elizabeth Sifton [Niebuhr] nor my friend George Malko, a former client of her's when she was an agent know her exact address,
I imagine that her sister Patty Ferguson, the first wife of Frank Conroy who runs the Tuscon Inn in Tuscon might be able to help you find her. Phyllis worked for Jason Epstein in the 60s, and she and I were close and I bought one wonderful book from her, Sam Kaplan's THE DREAM DEFERRED at Continuum. I believe after I was trying to get out of agenting after two years with Robert Lantz + Candida Donadio [1969-71]
representing Suhrkamp and a lot of smaller first rate German firms I also approached Jason, whom I had come go know over Random's publishing the collected Brecht, who pointed out, quite sensibly, not that it took about 50 k to live halfway well in New York City, but that if I wanted a job there I would have to bring in a stable full of classy horses. In short, I only got job when I didn't look for them, or a couple of times when desperation had set in and I was offered fine jobs at an encyclopedia and to be trained as a technical writer for Aviation Week, and it came to the crunch time of my committing myself I pulled back – the people offering me these fine jobs were just too nice, aside my yen to work out of the home, to stay on the sideline, except when it came to having a shop pretty much of my own.
Let me rough out who I was at that time in 1966. I had left grad school at Stanford in 1960 since I loved teaching but as a member of a German department I felt myself going dead; that feeling was reinforced at being a visiting scholar at the Uni of Washington from 1994-2004, lots of dead wood, a rare wonderful live scholar my age.
I also attended some writing and philosophy courses at Stanford, but my chief education transpired at Kepler's Book Shop, on Camino Real, in Menlo Park, practically within walking distance since I was also in charge of a dorm at Menlo Park Junior College. The fellow, he became a lifelong friend, who introduced me to then contemporary American authors, was Gus Blaisdell, who later taught at University of New Mexico and founded the Living Batch bookstore there. I also befriended a fellow
by the name of Michael Miller, who knew all the west coast poets at the time.