Click for the TV interview. It’s in German.
In this TV interview about the German literary scene, old amigo Carl Weissner, author of Death in Paris and Manhattan Muffdiver — and translator of too many books to list — sounds as if he’s sitting in a bar gossiping about gangsters. “Right,” he messages in an e-mail. “I AM gossiping about gangsters. And of course I call Herr Grass et al. ‘SCUM!’ ”
In any case, he points out that the German literary scene does not excite him. At all. Except for a couple of writers he likes, it’s a “huge yawning hole.”
He talks about his time on the Lower East Side (when he arrived in New York on a Fulbright, in the ’60s, to write a thesis about Charles Olson. Olson advised him his time would be better spent checking out the poetry scene. Which he did in a big way.) He talks about getting to know “the so-called motherfuckers” who hung out in the slums “armed to the teeth.” Not exactly poets.
As the editor of Klactoveedsedsteen, which he started in Heidelberg, Weissner had already been corresponding with many American writers in the literary underground, among them William Burroughs, who began collaborating with him on cut-up texts and tape recorder experiments.
Much of the interview is about Charles Bukowski, who became one of Weissner’s closest friends. He notes that his first translation of a book of Buk’s poems sold 50,000 copies in Germany even without any advertising. Later translations sold many times that amount, which is more than the originals ever sold in the U.S., for all Buk’s popularity here.