THE ROSLYN TARG Literary Agency is virtually a one-woman operation, but Roz Targ somehow manages to add four to five hours to a 24-hour day. She is seen everywhere - and you can spot her across any room - from screenings to parties to intimate luncheons and, if you have any nostalgia at all for the old meaning of the word "glamorous," you will apply that word to Roz. Her hair is long, fashionably straight and fashionably bright gold, although frequently hidden from sight by the many turbans and hats that are her trademark. If Coco Chanel's clothing brings a million at her auction, Roz' rags oughtta bring at least two mil - she has been collecting clothing like art for years, and every piece is distinctively perfect and you'd kill to get it off her back but "you" wouldn't look that good in it anyway.
All of this is prelude, of course, to the big confrontation: super-dresser Jacqueline Onassis, an editor at Doubleday, has lunch at the Algonquin with super-dresser Roslyn Targ. Our runners report that the agent wore a beige suede top over leather pants and boots, while the editor sported a cashmere blouson matching her beige pants. The editor also wore a raincoat, because it was raining. Clothing was discussed, but then so were books, and Roz reports that she was very impressed with Mrs. Onassis' intelligence, as well as her "literary frame of reference."
Now, none of this would mean anything if Roz Targ hadn't sold Jacqueline Onassis a book. At Viking, where Mrs. O' first set a well-shod foot into publishing, she was known for oversize, museum-type Jackie-books like In the Russian Style; a picture history of Russian costume that was published in connection with an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, and a just-published illustrated collection. The Firebird and Other Russian Fairy Tales. So, when a mutual business acquaintance offered to put agent and editor together, Roz went over her list of manuscripts mentally and decided that she had nothing of coffee-table size to interest the editor. But their lunch convinced her that Mrs. Onassis was deeply interested in all aspects of publishing, so Roz sent her a 795-page manuscript, a serious historical novel, and went off to Frankfurt to conduct her European transactions. By the time she'd returned, Jacqueline Onassis had prepared an offer for the novel by Nancy Zaroulis, tentatively entitled Sabra Palfrey , covering the years 1830-1890, and dealing with the female mill workers, abolitionists, etc. of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Doubleday plans to bring it out in August of 1979, as a "big" book. Jackie conducted all the negotiations herself," Roz tells me, and while the two of us are on the phone, who do you think calls on the other line to say the contracts are ready and are coming by messenger? You got it. "She makes all her own phone calls," says Roz.
Not one to rest on any laurel, Roz Targ is also very high on another project she has been agenting, the foreign rights of which alone have brought in over six figures so far with more to come. It's Hans Jorgen Lembourn's account of his 40-day-long love affair with Marilyn Monroe, and, under the ho-hum title Diary of a Lover of Marilyn Monroe , it has been sold to Arbor House for hardcover here, and to Bantam for paper.
The Danish journalist met Monroe during the period after she had broken up with Arthur Miller and just as she was about to film The Misfits , and spent 40 days and nights with her, watching her wash down pills with Dom Perignon, among other things. They say that the portrait that emerges from the book is one of a tormented and very vulnerable woman but that is hardly a surprise. Bill-Watching
WHAT IS A SURPISE is that Bill Targ, senior editor at Putnam's for 15 years and editor of Mario Puzo, Art Buchwald, Simone de Beauvoir and Edward Gorey, has frefused to renew his contract and will consequently leave Putnam at the end of this year. This is ironic when you consider that only last week at a luncheon held in his honor, Art Buchwald dryly remarked that the main reason he's stayed at Putnam all these years was that Targ had stayed there too - this in an age when job-switching is so endemic to the industry that writers start with one editor and one conception and end up with a whole new ballgame.
What are Targ's future plans? At 71, he looks and acts a sun-tanned sprig of 50, collects rare books and art and manages to hold his own sartorially with wife Roz, no mean achievement. He will be busy, and, when he has examined all the offers and made his clothes, we'll let you know.
Somewhere in my button box, among my "Publishers for Peace" and "Free Angela" buttons, I have one that says "Bill Targ: Editor and Bon Vivant," and I expect to keep wearing it. Another Day, Another Murder, Another Dollar
THIS SEGUES US neatly into Putnam, which is announcing that Dick Schaap, responsible for the best seller Instant Replay and co-author with Jimmy Breslin of the non-best seller, .44, a fictionalized account of the Son-of-Sam killings, has been signed to write "The Buddy Jacobson Story."
Buddy Jacobson is the horse trainer and high roller who has been indicted for the murder of Jack Tupper, the lover of his former lover, model Melanie Cain. This is hot stuff, involving big names in the moneyed world or horses, drug trafficking and the triangular life of a man who wanted too much and all to it at once. But a certain wan feeling of the inevitability of all of this is stealing over me - Truman Capote, Thomas Thompson, Lacey Fosburgh, Dick Schaap. Why is publishing so predictable so much of the time? Why is it that, before the smell of cordite has left the air, I hear in my head the sound of ghostly typewriting?