Obscene, a film about the life of maverick publisher Barney Rosset, whose company Grove Press was a driving force behind many of literature's most controversial books, premieres this Friday, September 26th at the Cinema Village in New York. Rosset's Grove is best known for bringing the words of Samuel Beckett, Kenzaburo Oe, Tom Stoppard, Che Guevara, and Malcolm X to the public, not to mention many of the Beat Generation writers, including Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg. His magazine Evergreen Review was one of the most influential publications of the counterculture of the 1950s and Sixties. He also fought the government in the courts to overrule the obscenity ban on Lady Chatterleys Lover, Tropic of Cancer and Naked Lunch. Grove's combative commitment to free speech and giving voice to the booming counterculture of the Sixties led to it being a major target of CIA and FBI operations. In 1969, the Grove office was the target of a missle launched from the back of flatbed truck by anti-Castro Cubans who had been operatives of the CIA.
The film follows the life of this unyielding and reckless man striving to enrich culture through literature. Ultimately he won and altered the course of history, but not without first enduring lawsuits, death-threats, grenade attacks, government surveillance, and the occupation of his premises by enraged feminists. The film includes interviews with many Grove Press alumni, including Reality Sandwich publisher, Ken Jordan, who literally grew up under the desks and in the mail room of the Grove office.