Shteyngart and Lipsyte compare notes on the Lish method

Gary Shteyngart interviews Sam Lipsyte in a Queens drinking establishment for the Loggernaut Reading Series.

LRS: Were you a student of Gordon Lish [who nicknamed himself “Captain Fiction,” and contends he “played a crucial role in the creation of the early short stories of Ramond Carver”]?

Lipsyte: Yes, I studied with him. He published a couple of stories of mine in The Quarterly, after many rejections. They had that great form letter when they rejected you — it was about five hundred words long.

LRS: I was studying writing at college and then this professor showed up, a disciple of Gordon Lish, and we operated according to the Lish method. You start reading your work and then as soon as you hit a false note she made you stop.

Lipsyte: Yeah, Lish would say, “That’s bullshit!”

LRS: That process completely derailed me. Took me years to recover my voice. But for you it actually seemed to have some kind of benefit.


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