October 9th, 2009 / 1:52 pm
Random

Editing INFINITE JEST

2375028342_fa90258198Again, some bits from the Sonora Review DFW Tribute Issue, which I’m still reading through; this time I’ve excerpted Rick Moody’s interview of Michael Pietsch, who edited Infinite Jest while at Little, Brown. The whole interview is interesting, as Pietsch talks about how he acquired IJ, how he and Wallace worked together to edit it, and how ‘it felt as if [they’d] published a book that mattered, and that would last.’┬áPietsch calls it ‘one of the great thrills’ of his working life.

Of the editing process, Pietsch says that ‘every decision was David’s. I made suggestions and recommendations and tried to make the reasons for them as clear as possible. But every change was his.’

After the jump, you’ll find some responses Wallace made to Pietsch’s requests for cuts.

p. 52 – This is one of my personal favorite Swiftian lines in the whole manuscript, which I will cut, you rotter.

p. 82 – I cut this and have now come back an hour later and put it back.

p. 133 – Poor old FN 33 about the grammar exam is cut. I’ll also erase it from the back-up disc so I can’t come back in an hour and put it back in (an enduring hazard, I’m finding).

pp. 327-330 – Michael, have mercy. Pending an almost Horacianly persuasive rationale on your part, my canines are bared on this one.

pp. 739-748 – I’ve rewritten it – for about the 11th time – for clarity, but I bare teeth all the way back to the 2nd molar on cutting it.

p. 785ff – I can give you 5000 words of theoretico-structural arguments for this, but let’s spare one another, shall we?

And, if you haven’t done so, head over to this piece by Steven Moore, another friend of Wallace’s who also helped him revise IJ. It’s longish, but interesting to see what was happening on another side while Pietsch was sending in his own suggestions.

And, of course, you should buy the tribute issue if you’d like to read more DFW stuff. I think I’ve reached my limit of posting excerpts from it without permission.

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40 Comments

  1. james yeh

      looks awesome. dfw is a charming dude

  2. james yeh

      looks awesome. dfw is a charming dude

  3. james yeh

      er… is/was

  4. blake

      is

  5. james yeh

      er… is/was

  6. blake

      is

  7. Lincoln

      nice find

  8. Lincoln

      nice find

  9. jh

      Typical fauxmotion. What Ryan here doesn’t tell you is that he has a story in the Sonora Review, and this is all more or less just an avenue for him to get more readers. Shameful, in my opinion.

  10. jh

      Typical fauxmotion. What Ryan here doesn’t tell you is that he has a story in the Sonora Review, and this is all more or less just an avenue for him to get more readers. Shameful, in my opinion.

  11. david erlewine

      Pending an almost Horacianly persuasive rationale on your part, my canines are bared on this one.

      fuck me that is funny

  12. david erlewine

      Pending an almost Horacianly persuasive rationale on your part, my canines are bared on this one.

      fuck me that is funny

  13. Ryan Call

      damn it, jh, youve got me.

  14. david erlewine

      hoping this is said in jest…

  15. davidpeak

      dfw supersedes all self-promotion.

  16. Ryan Call

      damn it, jh, youve got me.

  17. david erlewine

      hoping this is said in jest…

  18. davidpeak

      dfw supersedes all self-promotion.

  19. davidpeak

      three responses in one minute? damn. that comment hit a nerve.

  20. davidpeak

      three responses in one minute? damn. that comment hit a nerve.

  21. david erlewine

      you know you and sonora are gonna go splitsies on the $ pouring in

      excuse me, ryan, while i break my own heart tonight

  22. david erlewine

      you know you and sonora are gonna go splitsies on the $ pouring in

      excuse me, ryan, while i break my own heart tonight

  23. david erlewine

      i’ve had three responses in two minutes before. she wasn’t impressed either.

  24. david erlewine

      i’ve had three responses in two minutes before. she wasn’t impressed either.

  25. Blake Butler

      haha ‘get more readers’

  26. Ryan Call

      funny flag

  27. Blake Butler

      haha ‘get more readers’

  28. Ryan Call

      funny flag

  29. davidpeak

      erlewine in rare form here, everybody.

      nice.

  30. Blake Butler

      i have an image of ryan driving to the airport and picking up a bunch of readers on the curb and driving them somewhere, then dropping them off and kissing his wife and going back to get more readers

  31. davidpeak

      erlewine in rare form here, everybody.

      nice.

  32. Blake Butler

      i have an image of ryan driving to the airport and picking up a bunch of readers on the curb and driving them somewhere, then dropping them off and kissing his wife and going back to get more readers

  33. Ryan Call

      its a hard knock life

  34. Ryan Call

      its a hard knock life

  35. l.w.l.

      Thanks Ryan… I didn’t know S. Moore had a look/say in the editing, now the Gaddis. DFW connection has come full circle in my mind… and I just re-read The Recognitions and IJ in the last six months and am hard pressed to think any novel could impress me more than those two.

  36. l.w.l.

      Thanks Ryan… I didn’t know S. Moore had a look/say in the editing, now the Gaddis. DFW connection has come full circle in my mind… and I just re-read The Recognitions and IJ in the last six months and am hard pressed to think any novel could impress me more than those two.

  37. david erlewine

      ha, david p, thank you for humoring me. incidentally, until my wife kicks me out, i am here all week

  38. david erlewine

      ha, david p, thank you for humoring me. incidentally, until my wife kicks me out, i am here all week

  39. Maud Newton: Blog

      […] “This is one of my personal favorite Swiftian lines in the whole manuscript, which I will cut, you rotter.” […]

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