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Saturday, July 02, 2005

'The Happiness Of Getting It Down Right'

Julian Barnes pays tribute to neglected Irish author Frank O'Connor in The Guardian:

"Though he liked to write a quick first draft - obeying Maupassant's injunction to 'get black on white' - everything thereafter was itchy dissatisfaction and constant revision. His story 'The Little Mother' exists in 17 versions, published and unpublished; sometimes the count rose as high as 50 drafts. A story might eventually appear in a magazine, but that would not be the end of the revisions. Then it might be published in volume form, and still O'Connor would go on tinkering. Finally it might be Selected or Collected, yet there was always further work to be done. All for the sake of what [William] Maxwell, writing about his friend, called 'The happiness of getting it down right.' "


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