ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK?



      

                For those of you who may think I've dropped off the face 
      of the earth, or at least Europe, I am currently trapped in New 
      York and trying to escape back to France.  This is not proving 
      easy.  Thanks to various real estate catastrophes in Paris I lost 
      my apartment there and thanks to the Parisian real estate market, 
      which was requiring $20,000 or so, not counting rent, to secure a 
      new one, and various other unpleasantnesses, Dona and I ended up 
      in New York for what was supposed to be a short stay.
               Thanks to her real estate problems here and a huge pub-
      lishing mess involving two novels, a publishing screw-job, and an 
      agent problem resulting from and/or caused thereby, I'm stuck here 
      until I get it all sorted out, since New York is where the US 
      publishing industry resides, and therefore where this mess has to 
      be dealt with.
               Fearing lawsuits if the whole story were put into print, 
      I can't go into it here and now, or at least not without consult-
      ing legal council.  Suffice it to say that after receiving a 
      Lifetime Achievement award from the hands of the mayor of Nantes 
      in France, I arrived in the Big Apple to discover that, thanks to 
      the state of the American publishing industry, various perfidies 
      and lies on the part of denizens thereof, over thirty years as a 
      published novelist and two dollars will get you a ride on the 
      subway.  
                Well maybe it isn't quite that bad.  I got that award at 
      the Utopials conference, there were a lot of American writers 
      there, and I heard much worse.  It's a pre-revolutionary situation 
      waiting for its Che, caused in large part by something called 
      "order to net."  Say the chains ordered 10,000 copies of your last 
      book and sold 8000.  They order 8000 of the next one, sell 6000, 
      order 6000 of the one after than, sell 4000, order 4000 of that, 
      sell 3000, order 3000 of that.... You don't have to be much of a 
      mathematician to see where it leads, not just for writers, but en 
      mass for publishers too....
                 As Ian Ballantine said to me long before it even got 
      this far, "It started to go bad when publishers lost control of 
      their distribution.    
               At least I'm still in show business, and the escape route 
      just may go through Hollywood.  But that's a state secret at the 
      moment