Barney Rosset—a true giant of American publishing has sadly passed away. I came of age reading his stellar lit mag Evergreen Review and most of the books in my library had Grove Press on their spines.
Barney was a god of Avant-garde fiction and brought experimental writing and French literature into my life—Marguerite Duras, Robbe-Grillet, and so many others. He published nearly every writer I worshipped, and Grove was the house every serious fiction writer dreamed of.
Then of course there are his legendary battles against censorship. LINK
I was fortunate to have met him at his home/office in NYC, and then, a year later, when he was living on Long Island, we shared a boozy afternoon together at a restaurant in Bridgehampton where he took me to lunch.
Barney was not just a great raconteur, but he had tales to tell that no human could match. There were so many things I wanted to know—who was Pauline Réage and what was the story behind Story of O?—what was it like meeting Samuel Beckett?…etc., etc.
He took great delight in his memories and there was a definite twinkle in his eyes when he dished some literary dirt. Hell, as a connoisseur of erotica, he had plenty of juicy dirt to dish.
Drunk as I was, I’ll never forget that day.
Rest in peace, Barney.