Sunday, September 2, 2012

RAW and his editors

I've mentioned before that Robert Anton Wilson didn't seem to have much good to say about any of his editors, and Michael Johnson makes much the same point in his comment to yesterday's post, which I've "promoted from the comments" for today's post:

RAW was a lot like Pound here: he held publishers (and others who would seek to alter his words, like editors!) with contempt. Pound eventually had James Laughlin, fer cryin' out loud! Nary the encomium for Laughlin in Ez's later work.

 I think RAW's attitude toward potential handlers of his work really hurt him, because he answered that Falcon/New Falcon let him publish what he wanted. But he did need at least a pro proofreader (the Falcon stuff seems riddled with typos and RAW often gets names wrong); but the worst thing about NF was their poor distribution and they spent, it seems, ZERO on promotion.

I had long held out hope that RAW had kept a secret stash of his correspondence; when I asked him if he had that he said no. NOW: he could've been paranoid about THAT, too, if we only take into account what the FBI did with Michael Horowitz when they wanted Leary's papers.

But this is conjecture. As for now, I'll consider Joe Schlabotnick as the guy who worked at Dell and talked the brass into publishing it. Someone said he was "cute."

My comment: James Laughlin was the founder of  the publisher New Directions. RAW, typecast as a science fiction writer, generally had editors for  his novels who were science fiction book editors. But his editors were among the best in the business. David Hartwell, the editor for Schroedinger's Cat and Cosmic Trigger 1, is a legendary editor (he edited Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, and founded the New York Review of Science Fiction, still going strong.)

Jim Frenkel helped keep Illuminatus! in print and edited a couple of the "Historical Illuminatus!" books. His copyeditor for The Widow's Son, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, a big RAW fan and well-known as a fan, copyeditor and blogger, worked very hard to fix the mistakes in the book, as I documented. 

I can't remember any interviews where RAW refers to any of these folks. The only editor I can remember he ever had anything good to say about was Paul Krassner, in Coincidance, whom he thanks for giving RAW's writing space in The Realist when RAW had trouble getting published elsewhere.

The Shea article on Larry Shaw shows, perhaps, a more realistic and fair attitude toward editors, so perhaps the answer to who bought Illuminatus! is somewhere in Shea's writings.

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