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Raymond Carver's second collection of short stories, What we talk about when we talk about love (1981), won golden opinions among reviewers and established him as a fine—the finest—exponent of gritty realism and unadorned minimalism. But behind the scenes his editor at Knopf, Gordon Lish, who at Esquire magazine had guided his early steps, had removed more than half the writer's manuscript. Carver was pained by the amputations and the break between the pair was never repaired.
With the blessing of Tess Gallagher, Carver's widow, William Stull and Maureen P Carroll have restored the original manuscript of the 17 stories in Beginners. Unquestionably, Lish improved the story Want to see something by deleting an aimless sad digression about an albino infant in I could see the smallest things. And he altered the title of Pie to A serious talk as …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.