To Catch an Editor

by Jimmy CHEN

A 40-year-old male actor disguised as Raymond Carver calls out from behind a wall “Oh, come on in Gordy!” Gordon Lish enters the home, walks over to a manuscript placed next to a plate of cookies, and crosses out five paragraphs.

(Chris Hansen enters, pointing to the stool.)

CHRIS HANSEN: Have a seat over there.

(Gordon Lish, not surprised at all.)

GORDON LISH: Christ, I’ve seen this show.

CHRIS HANSEN: I’m Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC and we are doing a story about editors who try to meet writers for sex.

GORDON LISH: It’s not what it looks like. Ray called me to look over his—

CHRIS HANSEN: What exactly was your plan here today?

GORDON LISH: Like I was trying to say—Ray wrote a new story about two unhappy sisters and asked me to come over to read it.

CHRIS HANSEN: What is going on in your mind?

GORDON LISH: A lot of very nice ideas actually. I am a senior editor at Knopf. I’ve been editing Raymond Carver’s stories—and championing him—for years. Long before this ludicrous show hit the air. I am Raymond’s conscience, his voice.

CHRIS HANSEN: You’re naked. You’re holding your pen in the most intimate of places. What am I supposed to think?

GORDON LISH: Raymond and I have a special relationship, besides, my dry cleaners went under…Look, he’s a tad wordy. Put enough drinks in him and poof—sentimental bastard. I love him, man. I’m only trying to help him.

CHRIS HANSEN: That’s not what it says here.

GORDON LISH: What the hell are you talking about?

CHRIS HANSEN: I have a transcript of your most recent phone conversation with him. You said, and I quote: “Ray, I want to [blank] you down tonight. [Blank] you until your [blank] turns red.”

GORDON LISH: Exactly! I wanted to strip his words down. Cross him out until his page turns red.

(Chris hands Gordon a photograph.)

CHRIS HANSEN: Is that an appropriate thing to send a depressed alcoholic writer? Lounging around naked? Are those hives?

GORDON LISH: One of Ray’s new characters (who is allergic to carpet) walks around his living room naked all day. That stack of glossies you’re holding are reference materials.

CHRIS HANSEN: Sure, I bet.

GORDON LISH: You are incorrigible.

CHRIS HANSEN: Wow, a man of adjectives. Five hours? You must have been hoping for something pretty special to drive that far on a Saturday afternoon.

GORDON LISH: Hansen, I know where this is going. You’ve already made up your mind about me. You’re just a petty journalist who is uncomfortable with uncharacteristic love. Can we just keep this from Knopf and Esquire?

CHRIS HANSEN: It’s a little late for that, Gordy.

GORDON LISH: And the cops are waiting for me outside, right?

CHRIS HANSEN: That’s not up to me. But, yes.

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