Oct 4, 2009

Who's doing the carving?

"At least since Carver's death, and long before lay readers were able to judge for themselves, as they will now be able to with the publication of Beginners, there have been whispers about Lish's impact on Carver. In time, it has risen in volume to a full-scale debate, along the following lines: if Lish edited Carver so heavily, then is what we think of as "Carver-esque" really Lish? And if Lish's gifts were such, why is his own writing not as well known as Carver's? When Carver's work became more expansive later in life, was that in fact a change of style or merely a change of editor? Did Carver worry that he would be unmasked? Did Lish worry – or hope – that Carver would be unmasked? Does it matter whose work it is at all, as long as the work exists?" — Gaby Wood, The Observer
If Carver signed off on the changes, the style is his. If he didn't and the stories were rewritten and published without his say-so, then Lish deserves credit. As far as I know, it's the former. Let's have an end to this.

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