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Rights Battle Brews over Un-Edited Carver Stories

In 1981, Knopf published a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver called What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. The book was a critical success. Reviewers praised its minimalism and Carver's spare style. It was, perhaps, more spare than Carver intended.

Carver's editor was Gordon Lish, and since the author's death in 1988 at the age of 50, scholars have discovered that Lish edited Carver's stories heavily — some would say drastically. Lish cut description. He changed story endings. And in some cases, he eliminated more than half of what Carver had written.

Now Carver's widow wants his readers to see the original stories. She's pushing to have What We Talk About When We Talk About Love republished. New Yorker magazine has printed one of those stories in its annual fiction issue. Knopf says it owns the rights — but to what?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.