Best Editing Story Ever
My source says this is from: THE PARIS REVIEW, FALL
ROBERT GOTTLIEB ON THE ART OF EDITING #1 – INTERVIEWED BY LARISSA MACFARQUHAR
"For a while I was editing the two best writers of quality who were writing spy novels, John le Carré and Len Deighton, and you couldn’t find a more perfect pair of opposites in the editorial process. Le Carré is unbelievably sensitive to editorial suggestion because his ear is so good and because his imagination is so fertile – he’ll take the slightest hint and come back with thirty extraordinary new pages. Deighton, on the other hand – who is totally willing, couldn’t be more eager for suggestions – is one of those writers for whom, once a sentence is down on paper, it takes on a reality that no amount of good will or effort can change. So you can say to him, Len, this is a terrific story but there is a serious problem. He’ll say, What is it? What is it? And you say, Well, on page thirty-seven this character is killed, but on page a hundred and eighteen he appears at a party. Oh my God, Len says, this is terrible, but I’ll fix it, don’t worry. Then you get the manuscript back, and you turn to page thirty-seven, and he’ll have changed it to, He was almost killed."