Monday, December 15, 2008

Letters to the Editor

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 3:30 PM

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You know what I would really like to read? (You care about what I would really like to read?) A collection of correspondences between David Foster Wallace and his editors. One constant in the tributes that've been flowing out since his death has been people who worked with him — at magazines and publishing houses, on stories, novels, essays and reportage — speaking rapturously of the process of editorial give-and-take. Wallace, it's been unanimously reported, was the kind of person who could give you paragraphs — minutely detailed, full of spiraling and self-effacing explanation — on what any given passage, sentence, word, comma was supposed to mean.

Maybe this is because I've been known, in rounds of copy-editing here at the L, to go behind fellow-editors' backs and reinsert semicolons into my own copy, but I really admire the kinda excruciating dedication to the process of thought, and its expression. (He comes off, in these letters, as much more humble about his copy than I do. Unsurprisingly.) The hard-earned love for something you've written, and the endless desire to talk about it and work on it more. It seems kinda like such a collection would be crucial to understanding him, and entertaining to read, and a fearsomely good example for all of us.

So, um, we know we have to figure out how to deal with DFW's "literary estate" now, and some ideas have started to circulate, but, if anyone out there with control over such things is listening, well... yeah. I would love this.

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