Monday, July 03, 2006

Tim Adams on Bill Buford's maddening/charming ways

at The Observer:

The other reason that those of us in the office forgave him, though, was that when he put his mind to it Buford was the most inspired editor of other people's writing you had ever seen. You waited and waited for him to engage with something, but when he did it was, on occasion, like watching someone take apart an old Skoda, surround himself with all the greasy bits, and put it back together as, well, an XR3i. There was little you could not learn about sentences from him. Long, flat stories, 10,000 words of cliche, would return after a torrid night of Buford's attention without a single word in the place it had once been, and suddenly brimming with comedy and adventure. Some writers, particularly those who had not submitted long, flat stories in the first place, hated this dramatic intervention, of course, and great stand-offs would ensue. Others, realising that they had never ever sounded so good, would quibble a bit, and concede.

(Thanks to Maud for the link.)

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