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Table of contents

Lish did much more than lop.

Beginners by Raymond Carver

Read the stories in Beginners alongside the reduced versions there's not much point in having the book unless you do , and you see the scale of his interference. He re-titled the stories, re-paragraphed them, put in section-breaks, changed the names of characters, created new endings in one case, a murder becomes a double murder , modified the tone and tampered with motive and psychology.

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His interventions are sometimes prissy, as when he saves Carver, or his characters, from too blatant an expression of prejudice: "Negro" disappears, as does "longhair", and the two hippies in a "psychedelic" van who infuriate the protagonist in "If It Please You" become simply a denim-wearing "young couple". Mostly, though, Lish is keen to blue-collarise Carver — to make him sound authentically wrong-side-of-the-tracks, the voice of the American underclass, the Hemingway of s America.

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Literary references are removed, on the grounds that the lowlife characters wouldn't be sufficiently educated to read: out go Italo Svevo from one story and Ivanhoe from another. Similes and metaphors are deleted, too: "We're like the Canadian geese," a young man gushes to his new wife, "They only marry once," before Lish gets to work. As well as saving Carver from heavy-handedness, Lish also prevents him from using too high or old-style a register. Anyone hoping for further prolixity from the Lishless Carver will be disappointed, however.

The blunt and arresting first sentences that were his trademark are all there the only word Lish cut from the following three was "scotch" : "I've seen some things"; "A man without hands came to the door to sell me a photograph of my house"; "That morning she pours Teacher's scotch over my belly and licks it off. There's a risk of monotony, too: everybody's cracking up or breaking up or screwing around or drinking too much — especially that.

It's a superfluous parenthesis in a rambling tale, and Lish removed it.

In "A Small Good Thing", a small boy, Scotty, is knocked down on his birthday: while his parents keep vigil at the hospital, vainly hoping he will recover, the baker from whom they've ordered and failed to collect a birthday cake leaves nasty, anonymous messages on their answering machine.

When a man's body is discovered in the picturesque town of Hay-on-Wye, his death appears to be 'unnatural' in every sense.

Merrily Watkins, parish priest, single mother and exorcist, is drafted in to investigate. It's a great time to be in a reading group! Discover new titles and books you might not normally pick up and buy, or re-examine books you already know and love.

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Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. Faber Stories, a landmark series of individual volumes, presents masters of the short story form at work in a range of genres and styles.


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Brian Aldiss, who died in , was best known for his science fiction - and in particular for a short story optioned by Stanley Kubrick, which would, under the direction of Steven Spielberg, become the film A. Artificial Intelligence. This brief, late trilogy contains much of his lively humour, one improbable invention, and a pervasive sense of loneliness and longing. Brian Aldiss, born in , is one of the most prolific authors of both general and science fiction.


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In a writing career stretching from to the present he has published over seventy books. He has also been an influential compiler of science fiction anthologies. Faber have reissued six of his best science fiction titles: Earthworks , Cryptozoic!

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