The new Fall/Winter 2009 issue of The Hemingway Review , published by The Heminwgay Society and Univ of Idaho Press, contains a short research essay I wrote on the “Bimini” excerpt from Islands in the Stream that Esquire published in 1970. Gordon Lish was fiction editor at the time, when Howard Hayes ran the men’s journal.
When I was researching Lish’s papers at Indiana Univ. last year on two Helm Fellowships, I found letters from Mary Welsh Hemingway to Lish — they spent much time together, and she was not happy with the cover photo of her deceased hubby, nor the situation with the excerpt (which the magazine had paid $30K for — probably $200K in 1970 money!).
Gordon Lish, of course, has again lately been the subject of much debate in the press now that Raymond Carver’s Beginners and a new biography is out, which is anti-Lish.
My Carver bio, which will be out in 2011 from McFarland and Company, will tend to be pro-Lish editing — for the most part. I contend Carver would not be he institute he is without Lish’s help; he would have been a obscure but respected minor short story writer published by small and university presses, not McGraw-Hill and Knopf, which Lish had to go up to bat and do songs and dances to secure book contracts.