What We Talk About When We Talk About Editing

9 thoughts on “What We Talk About When We Talk About Editing”

  1. Your last point about listening first rather than justifying why you’ve done something the way you have is a really good one. 🙂 There’s a tendency to be too caught up in your own creation to let it change but as in the case of Carver and Lish, it may be for the best.

  2. You literature guys, who use phrases like “mawkish tableau,” 50% of which I had to look up. Lazily in the google dropdown.

    Interesting study. I’ll put Carver on my ‘look-into’ list. & I will desperately be in need of someone like Lish after November. :^)

    Sounds similar to Nabakov, and his ability to capture rich, large concepts in a small space using something between prose and poetry, along with an impressive arsenal of narrative devices.

    Hey, right now I’m reading about disc world, which is flat, resting on the top of four elephants which are standing on a turtle, with the sun, naturally, orbiting. My profound literary question is: “what will she do after she arrives at ‘Z?'”

    1. Haha, good question.

      You definitely need to check out Carver! I enjoyed this collection so much. (It doesn’t have any vampires or zombies in it, though 🙂

      Nabokov’s editor was his wife– I thought that was interesting. Reminded me of how Harvey’s article on Lish and Carver compared the end of their relationship to the end of a marriage. I guess editing is a kind of love.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Nabokov, if you want to read more about Vera Nabokov. My favorite part: “After moving to the United States of America in 1940, she learned to drive and chauffeured her husband on many field trips, notably in the North American West, to hunt butterflies. To protect him she carried a handgun.”

      1. I hesitate to imagine what some of those conversations sounded like, between Nabokov and his wife.

        Carver sounds pretty good, although, I don’t know. No vampires? You sure?

        My skill at literary analysis is a dim candle before your brilliant sunlight.

      2. I would love to know what Vera and Vladimir talked about, too. It would probably make an excellent book.

        Gosh, thank you for all the kind words!

      3. Written in 1974, when the straitlaced concepts of romance and marriage from the first half of the century had just met the sexual liberation of the 1960’s, and the result was a profound confusion which I would argue has persisted ever since.

        Apollo vs. Dionysus?

        To me it’s palpable in this particular collection.

        I think it’s funny when he uses the verb “go” instead of “to say.” We used to do that when we were kids, and it drove my mom crazy.

      4. Yeah, I really liked how he did that. And it’s interesting, too, how it suggests a sort of speech-action.

      5. Possibly, but I think he’s just being vernacular. Noways, teenagers say “He’s all”or “She’s all” as dialog markers. “He/She goes” was the same thing back in the 70’s.

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