Sampsell on Lish

Kevin Sampsell wrote a little ditty on the Gordon Lish family tree for, in which he namedrops two writers (Ben Marcus and Diane Williams) and a press (Dalkey Archive) I absolutely adore.


A friend of mine recommended something by Gordon Lish. The book was Dear Mr. Capote, a disturbing novel about a man writing letters to Truman Capote about his plan to kill forty-seven women. The narrator speaks to you like a demented true-crime writer reciting a case study. There are letters started and abandoned, recollections of old schoolmates, constantly tweaked repetition, and enough Freudian material to keep a couch warm for days.

Right away, I started in on Lish’s other books. They too were full of odd wordplay, eviscerating details, and personal asides most writers wouldn’t dare print.


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