The Real Paul Jones

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Concise-ness of Carver in Heath Anthology

Paul, · Categories: General

We went to pick up our son for his extended weekend away for Science and Math yesterday. On his desk was the Concise Edition of the Heath Anthology of American Literature! And yes it included Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” I wrote the Carver headnote for the Heath Editions — Concise and Less-than-Concise-but-multivolume-and-full-of-more-literature Editions — and so was delighted to see the story included.

I had rushed to meet a deadline for the new edition back in January when the Heath editors changed the Carver story from “A Small Good Thing” to WWTAWWTAL.

I also made changes to the Teachers Guide, but since that is online only now there was less of a rush.

What drove me was the importance of recognizing the publication of the original pre-Lish story, Beginners, from which WWTAWWTAL was formed (by Lish’s strong editorial hand).

I’m not sure if this penultimate paragraph made it as an addition to the headnote or not:

Yet there is new controversy about Carver’s rewriting and of his relationship to his editors, particularly Lish. The recent publication of “Beginners” in the New Yorker, the story that would become – after extensive editing by Lish – “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” and the accompanying article and an online exclusive displaying Lish’s edits in detail show that Carver’s rewriting may have been as much an attempt to recover his stories as an enlargement of earlier minimalist works. Once some legal issues can be resolved, we will be able to have a much closer look at Carver’s process, intentions and art as well as an ability to evaluate the relationship between Carver and Lish.

I don’t see it on the website for the Anthology. Looks like I need to check in with the editors.

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