Selected Works

The life of a man of various personae: religious poet, erotica dealer, jailbird, and scapegoat.
"Absorbing account of an often overlooked corner of American publishing history. . . . Only by understanding the quintessentially American nature of the business, [Gertzman] argues, can we understand the eroticized culture we inhabit today.” Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1999

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Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist is now available as an EBook at the following links:

Kindle edition ($9.99)

Nook edition ($11.99)

from KOBO ($12.99)

The book should be available soon in an iBook Edition

I spoke at a panel on Personalities in Post-war Publishing with Loren Glass and Boris Kachka at the Book History Colloquium at Columbia on December 11, 2013. The session has been posted on YouTube. If you would like to see it, the URL is
URL to youtube
Columbia panel


That's right--this is the title of a set of interviews by Richard Godwin, a philosophical novelist who works brilliantly in the combined genres of noir and horror fiction. He has interviewed me, and his questions were the most difficult I have had to answer.


A review of my book, of which I am very proud, has appeared in _The Jewish Daily Forward_. It was written by Richard Kostelanetz, a long-time writer on American publishing and a critic of contemporary literature. He is also a leading experimental poet. His publication list is as extensive as his reputation.


The way I figure it, this means I will not have to fast next Yom Kippur. Or does it?

"Ulysses’ Gaze: With the publication of purportedly obscene work by authors such as James Joyce (above), Samuel Roth won a reputation as a renegade. "

Leopold Bloom, perhaps contemplating Sam Roth's piracy of the novel that immortalized him. I like to think he would have recognized in SR a comrade soul. "Hypocritish reader, — my fellow, — my brother ."

1. By Woody Haut, author of _Heartbreak and Vine_ and _Pulp Culture_:

2. By Steven J. Gertz, author of _Dope Menace: The Sensational World of Drug Paperbacks, 1900-1975_


The Roth family on the Lower East Side in 1905. Samuel, age 11, appears over the right shoulder of Jay Gertzman

When the grandchildren of Samuel Roth contacted me in 2006 about writing his biography, I remembered how much I had enjoyed talking to their mother in her apartment on Central Park West. Those meetings were 15 years previously, when I was still teaching in a college in north central Pennsylvania. After or before our talks, I would sit in the park and wonder how the ambiance, with the same air, sun, clouds, grass, and trees, could be so different than that of the rural "hub of scenic trails" where I lived. It was what I thought about Samuel Roth also: how different--in the sense of pious, strong-willed, yet dubious, double-tongued, and contemptuous of critics--from other publishers of literary magazines, distributors of banned books, compulsive writers, and wrestlers with Jewish identity. Whatever else he was, he was an image-breaker, a "character," a luftmensch.

I wasn't, but maybe because of that, I had thought and written about other "characters," or people who could fight through the routines that destroy self-awareness and reward sloth: Robert Herrick (the 17th-century lyric poet with the perfect "ear" for word music), the "priest of love" D. H. Lawrence, the "thriller" crime novelist David Goodis, the publisher Lyle Stuart, the Weimar clairvoyant Eric Hanussen (who knew almost to the day when the Nazis would eliminate him), the noir crime writers of the 40s and 50s, and the East Village novelists and poets whose "horror porn" of the 60s showed that pornography was the most political form of fiction.
Samuel Roth, target in "Vice War"

"It takes a single murder to destroy an individual. It takes a war to destroy a nation." --attributed to Nietzsche (by Samuel Roth)

"Life is AND." --Philip Roth

"Never before did I see /​ The Shadows that live in the Sun" -- D. H. Lawrence

Do roadways lift themselves toward the sky?
Do stones roll passionately into brooks?
And have you ever seen a hillside lift up arms
And reach out to the passing clouds for love?
You are a road, a stone, a hillside, brother.”
-- "Yahrzeit," Samuel Roth