Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Dear Mr. Beckett: The Samuel Beckett File: Letters from the Publisher" Edited by Lois Oppenheim/Curated by Astrid Myers Rosset (Opus)


As a publisher (TamTam Books) I'm fascinated with books about publishing or about the publisher themselves. I'm especially interested in the great American publisher Barney Rosset.   His Grove Press is/was very much a presence in my library for nearly my entire teenage and adult life.   If it wasn't for example and inspiration I got from Mr. Rosset (from a great distance, never met him) I doubt I would have started TamTam Books.  Reading "Mr. Beckett" brought up my anxieties about my press, and I can totally 'feel' for whatever situations that Rosset took on or got himself involved in.

For one, anyone who has even the slightest interest in the world of publishing should read this book.  By no means is it a perfect book. In fact, it's kind of messy, but at the end of the read, a delightful mess of a book.  Some of the interviews repeat themselves and could have been edited down, but I think the purpose of the publication brings the reader to that era of Samuel Beckett and his relationship with his American publisher, Barney Rosset.

As the full title states, it is a file of Rosset's letters to Beckett, as well as some correspondence from Beckett to Rosset, but also interviews with Rosset, and Eugene Ionesco and Alain Robbe-Grillet, regarding their relationship with the publisher, but on Beckett as well.  There is an insight into various theatrical productions of "Waiting for Godot," as well as his other plays.   Also interesting interview regarding the making of Beckett's "Film,"  with Rosset (he produced the movie) and working with Buster Keaton.  The letters from Rosset to Beckett are fascinating, concerning the relationship between author and publisher.  Nothing dramatic or bad happens between the two guys, but the daily struggle of getting things done, and dealing with financial issues is at times painful (for me) and awesome at the same moment.   A magnificent monument to the publisher and the writer.  May it last forever.
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