In response to our take on the tug of war over the publication of early drafts of Raymond Carver's best-known stories came a small excellent email: "As a grad student, I sat for a week in the Lilly Library at Indiana University poring over Gordon Lish's papers, after exactly what Tess Gallagher is/was/will be forever after—to expose Lish as the man behind the curtain and Caver as an unsullied genius. I read hardly anything in grad school but Carver and Faulkner (I know) and read anything I could get my hands on looking for the holy grail that is Authorial Intent. As I went through the Lish papers, reading manuscript copies of "The Bath"/"A Small, Good Thing" (where in the first Lish-edited version you don't know if Scotty dies and where in the second Carver reinstated the ending) I found lots of black ink, and a good 2000+ plus words of scenes and dialogue that didn't make it into any published draft I saw, but that significantly changed the story."
"Was the story better as Carver first wrote it? Maybe, but probably not. It would have been too long (even if it wasn't Carver), too heavy-handed and unwieldy, in my opinion. But the funny thing is—there is absolutely no way to tell whose hand swiped that black marker over page after page of that manuscript."
"Carver could have been over Lish's shoulder while he worked, or on the phone, or mailing drafts back and forth across the country. Without handwriting samples, which wouldn't apply to the haphazard x-ed out pages I saw, there was no way to know what happened and I left Indiana even more disillusioned than I'd already become after a year of grad school. The kicker is that I'll never know who wrote the most heartbreaking thing I saw while there: a line drawn through one nondescript sentence and the words 'what we talk about when we talk about love' written above it."