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RE: Dear Mr. Beckett

Dear Reader,

Barney originally had a deal to publish his Beckett correspondence with a distinguished academic press. Before long, scholarly footnotes and asterisks formed at the bottom of the letters like barnacles on the bottom of a simple wooden rowboat. The volume grew weightier until it was swamped by scholarly apparatus. Barney withdrew his oars and canceled the

One night, after a squall of martinis mixed in his yellow Pernod pitcher at his Fourth Avenue loft, Barney sent me home with the letters and an invitation to publish them. I opened the folder on the M-5 Limited Bus, riding solo, in my private stretch, up Sixth Avenue reading the letters pretty much as you will read them here.

Lois Oppenheim has shown admirable scholarly restraint in her introductions to each section. The letters appear just as Barney directed: unmediated, unmessed with; untampered with; straight as they came out of his Smith Corona. He wanted the passion and delight of their friendship to shine through unfiltered. We've done our best not even to transcribe them,
using facsimiles wherever possible. There's plenty of room for you to scribble your own notes or leave a ring of your martini glass in the margins. Barney was a publisher who believed in a reader leaving his own impression on the page.

No footnotes, of course, but copious doodles, decorate the pages of Barney’s book. Both Rosset and Beckett doodled their way to an idea and we have reproduced a few as frontispieces to various chapters. You’ll also find photos, interviews, contracts, most of which have never been published before. (The final book's two-color design may be seen in the digital galley at Edelweiss.)

Astrid Rosset made me a gift of the Pernod pitcher. She called me one afternoon, "You remember the book of Beckett letters Barney talked to you about?" Lois, Astrid and I have spent the past year mixing this martini of a book. We hope it's not too dry for you.




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