James Campbell of The Guardian considers “restorations” through the publication of Raymond Carver’s short stories with handy slicing and rewriting work of his editor Gordon Lish taken out. On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Native Son by Richard Wright are other restoration cases that have drawn attention in the past few years.
The carved-up Carver saga, which first came to light almost a decade ago when a New York Times reporter checked out Lish’s boast that he had played a major part in forming the voice that influenced a generation of fiction writers, is only one of a string of cases in which the texts of well-known books have been “restored”. Some readers regard the process as unnecessary interference with a writer’s words by someone who, in many instances, the writer never knew, far less authorised. Others see it as a legitimate step in directing the reader back to the author’s primary intentions. “The publication of ‘original’, ‘lost’ and ‘restored’ versions of works by noted writers is a well-established practice among modern publishing firms” – so says Stull on the website that he and his wife, Maureen P Carroll, have set up to promote the Beginners project.