Writers Slash Their Not-So Favorite Books Into Pieces


By Carmen Comment


Earlier this month, Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout espoused the joys of brevity in books in his most recent “Sightings” column on Orion’s plans to publish abridged editions of classic novels. Now the New York Times’ Motoko Rich pushes the idea forward in a not-entirely-serious vein, asking writers like Christopher Buckley, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Mailer and Jonathan Franzen to pick what books deserve to go under the editing knife. Mailer offered a list that he requested be printed in full and without commentary, while Neal Pollack suggested cutting “80 percent of THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks and turn it into the greeting card that it was meant to be.”

Most controversial goes to Ann Patchett with her Orwell slams and most wimpy, easily, to Franzen, who applied the abridging logic only to titles, even if he got off some amusing zingers like “Shortmarch” and “Paler Fire.”