Whose story is it, anyway?

As I have mentioned before on my own blog, I loves me some Gawker. The gossip about New Yorkers of whom I know little, the on-the-fly creativity of the commenters, the unadulterated wickedness that makes me smile since it's directed at people other than myself. But even though the NY-based publishing world is well within the website's purview, I have to say that Gawker isn't the first resource I think of when it comes to serious literary questions.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see the site bring up the seldom-discussed relationship between authors, editors, and the work that they jointly produce. Okay, so Gawker probably wouldn't have bothered had the people involved not been named Carver, Gallagher, and Lish, but still:

You know how all Raymond Carver's short stories are like, "We sat in the kitchen. It was raining. I poured another scotch. I drank it. She sat on the chair, drinking. We drank together a while"? Apparently they weren't always so minimalist. In fact, according to Raymond's widow Tess Gallagher, they were downright "expansive" before his editor Gordon Lish got hold of them, radically cutting them and in some instances changing their titles and endings. And in a recently-unearthed letter, Raymond seems to plead for Gordon to stop publication of the altered book. So Tess wants to bring out an alternate edition of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" that contains the unedited stories. Is this a terrible, terrible idea?

As the adjunct professor in your Seldom Read American Writers (Eng 250) class used to say: Discuss.


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