Arnold Leo on Andy Warhol

Editing the Artist’s Notoriously Unedited Novel

Arnold Leo moved to East Hampton and became a commercial fisherman about forty years ago, having burned out from his intense life as an editor at Grove Press in the late 1960s. He was introduced to publishing as a college intern at Popular Gardening magazine. He was the only male in an editorial office full of young women, and his internship involved many martini dinners and the loss of his virginity. This turned out to be good training. At Grove, Leo would copyedit the works of the Marquis de Sade and Samuel Beckett, as well as anonymous Victorian porn lit. He was also the editor of Andy Warhol’s notoriously unedited a: a novel. But once Grove Press went nearly bankrupt, and the big corporations that sell frozen dinners started to buy up American trade publishers, Leo left the industry.

—Lucy Mulroney

THE BELIEVER: How did things begin with Andy Warhol and Grove?

ARNOLD LEO: Well, I was working on a variety of projects, and one day I just happened to notice in the general editorial files that there was a file for Andy Warhol. I took a look, and it was a file that had been created after the owner of Grove Press, Barney Rosset, had agreed to publish a novel by Andy Warhol. It was known that almost anything Andy produced was an immediate commercial success, whether it was his artwork or the movies. So I see this file and I think, Why is nobody doing anything about this?

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