Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I thought the editing, especially in the first version, was brilliant, as I said. The stories I can’t let go of in their entirety are these. “Community Center” (If It Please You) and “The Bath” (A Small Good Thing) and I’d want some more of the old couple, Anna and Henry Gates, in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” (Beginners).

I would not want “Mr. Fixit” (Where Is Everyone) in the book in its present state. The story “Distance” should not have its title changed to “Everything Stuck to Him.” Nor the little piece “Mine” to “Popular Mechanics.” “Dummy” should keep its title. “A Serious Talk” is fine for “Pie.” I think “Want to See Something” is fine, is better than “I could See the Smallest Things”…

Raymond Carver in a letter to his editor and friend Gordon Lish, concerning Lish’s edit of Carver’s book of short stories originally published in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, as cited in the 24 & 31 December 2007 issue of the New Yorker.

Letters to an Editor reads like heartbreak.

Carver’s widow, the poet Tess Gallagher, intends (maybe already has? It’s late and I can’t find my reference…) to republish the book of short stories as Raymond Carver originally intended them.

The New Yorker published Beginners in the same issue – this is the original What We Talk About… as Carver originally intended it, prior to Lish’s edits. Even more telling: The online publication of “Beginner’s”, Edited, a blow by blow account of Lish’s clear cut of Carver's work.


Lolabola said...

hey what great timing!

After your last post on it, I got the original edited one out on an inter-library loan which took FOREVER to get to me and came all the way from my hometown. It was due back today. The whole time I was reading it I was wondering what he would've left differently.

Had found the Beginners in the New Yorker but not all this other fascination.

YAY! for your informative blog and seeming ability to post just for me ;)

I, Rodius said...

I love those stories. They made me ache and want to write some of my own. I think it's time to revisit them. Thanks!

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