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Lish to Return

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[Originally posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005]

Publisher’s Weekly is reporting that seminal literary figure Gordon Lish is talking to publishers about a return to the editor’s desk. The article states “Lish, who for much of the ’90’s was teaching at places like Columbia, has of late been fielding manuscripts from new and unknown literary authors and returning them quickly with comments, say sources. But Lish, who as both teacher and Knopf editor has had a more profound effect on modern storytelling than nearly any active publishing figure, has been seeking something more official.” No word yet on which publishing company will ultimately return Lish to the literary world but I’m sure someone will.

This is a fantastic development. I remember gladly receiving rejections from Lish’s journal The Quarterly before it closed shop. Someone once described a genius as a person who looks out their window and does not see what you and I see. Lish clearly fits this description.

If your favorite author came up in the late seventies and eighties, particularly if they are a short story writer, then Lish probably had his hands in their work at some point. Either as an editor or through his workshops, he molded many great voices. Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, and others all worked with the man in one capacity or another.

Welcome back, Gordon.