Wednesday, April 7, 2010

lish edited hannah?

Am I the only one waiting for the bomb to drop? Or pathetic enough to consider the posthumous possibility that someone will unearth "The Truth" that Gordon Lish heavily edited and rewrote entire paragraphs of Barry Hannah's fiction???

Could it be possible? Ridiculous, right?

Before you threaten this blog with its own mad does of Lishterine, consider the possible:

Barry Hannah was a lonely, mopey plotless writer narrating tales of dysfuctional lesbians who never left the living room with TVs always tuned to the saddest reruns. And then, bam! Lish discovers him and turns his stories into booze-soaked, Southern tragicomedy! Gerry Roth becomes Geronimo Rex!

Gordon Lish, who seemingly has done a hell of a lot for contemporary literature, has wound up playing the role of the sulky devil in regard to the Raymond Carver collection. Somehow, Lish has become the "baddie" who corrupted the true Carver or imprisoned him to unfair but non-negotiable edits or "Jew behind the curtained" him or something.

And now Poor Barry Hannah has been dead and gone for a month, but his editor Gordon Lish is still lurking, most likely "discovering" new writers and eating red meat on rye. Somehow, Lish has gotten a bad rap in all this and yet based on the evidence, he has had a hand in as much contemporary American fiction as anyone else. Maybe we should start revering him as a mystical straw who has stirred so many fine drinks?

OK, forget the cocktails. But I recently read that Sam Lipsyte's journey from sad nobody to literary discovery to "comic genius" included an invitation to join the prestigious Lish writing seminar. I have no information on any "girlie action," "play," or "bi-curious and known drunk" Lipsyte received as a direct result of such membership, but it does seem as if once again--as with Carver, Hannah, Richard Ford, and others--we can thank El Gordo for anything we know about Lipsyte's fiction (input The Ask at a virtual front near you).

So in closing, an open invitation to Lipsyte: dish us the real deal on Lish--all the dirt or other brown dust worth mentioning. Or at least tell us what we should know about this guy...

...thanks, Sam.

And blessed Barry, yes, rest in peace and leave a light on for the rest of us.
For more on Lish's history of helping literature, is a place to start.

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