Prufrock's Page

Thursday, June 29, 2006

One's Dream Job Description

Speaking of John Blackwell, who died in 1997 after working as an editor for 30 years with Secker & Warburg, Dan Franklin says:

"John never took on an author (though he wrote pithy, often hilarious reports on whatever manuscripts came his way), never saw his name in the trade press, never made a speech at a launch party. He did something much more precious. He line-edited text - checking facts and spelling, ferreting out inconsistencies, turning pedestrian sentences into models of elegance - and his authors loved him for it. Among the writers John edited were Tom Sharpe, David Lodge, Malcolm Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, J. M. Coetzee, John Banville and Louis de Bernières. The latter remembers John ringing him one day to tell him that Italian jeeps had a different kind of suspension than that described in his book. I bet every other of John's authors has a similar tale.

"...John's sort of editing took time - many cigarettes, many beers, much discussion and laughter. The impatient deadlines of modern publishing don't suit such people."


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