Johnny America


To Catch an Editor


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.

Filed under Fiction on May 13th, 2008

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