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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ray Carver Unbound?

James Campbell writes:

For many years, Gallagher, in partnership with William L. Stull and Maureen P. Carroll, the editors of Collected Stories, has been campaigning to get the un-Lished version of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, which they have called Beginners (the original name of the title story), into print. In Gallagher’s view, Beginners represents the authentic Carver, the writer she knew and encouraged in the composition of his next book of stories, Cathedral (1983), which displays more abundant narrative talents than Carver’s readership had come to expect.

continue reading the extensive essay at the link: Raymond Carver reviewed by James Campbell TLS


Pamela Uschuk said...

Lish should be lashed. Give the rights to Tess so we can see BEGINNERS in print.

Anonymous said...

Dunno. My understanding, from that article eons ago when the word of Lish's work was made public, was that Lish cut beginnings and endings and came up with most of the titles.

Similar stuff happened to Thomas Wolfe with Max Perkins and after his death with the new editor who actually chopped up the manuscript (as Perkins had) to form several books from remaining trunk filled with manuscript. That editor even created characters. All of which can be observed in the archival material.

Remember--the editor was the one who thought up Tara, Gone with the Wind, Scarlett, etc. for that novel. I believe Mitchell had Pansey instead of Scarlett and the house was also some painfully awful name.

This argument goes on and on. DHLawrence cuckolded the Aldington who wound up being his literary executor and added his won writing to the books published after DHL's death, to the point that nobody knows what's really Lawrence and what's Aldington.

As a writer and editor I can see good in both arguments. The original Delaney Bramlett mix of the Layla album is much different that Clapton's own mix. And much better. One of the best things about living in this time is that we're seeing all of the remixes and alternate versions of things appearing now. So we can see how ideas matured. I've always thought it interesting when writers like Yeats and Fowles revised material all the way to the grave. Which is the Uber version? I mean I've seen different versions of Apocalypse Now (did you see the napalm ending?), Bladerunner (sans voiceover), and Brazil (happy ending--it was all a dream). I don't agree that the director is always right. Neither is the writer.

I've personally given people titles, merged charcaters, redirected stories, and advised and made suggestions.

And I'm not defending Lish who I've heard tons of bad things about. Just defending the idea that Carver was an alcoholic and may not have been the best judge of his own work (just as most even non-alcoholic writers are not, even me). I'm an alcoholic editor/writer so know something about the turf.

Be nice to compare the versions without having to dig out the old litmags and anthologies where a lot of that work first appeared.

Richard Peabody said...

Didn't mean to be anon on the above. I'm Richard Peabody, I teach grad level creative writing at Johns Hopkins and have edited Gargoyle Magazine for 33 years now.

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