I'm not sure if it's just me, but it seems like everyone in the world is on vacation this week. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was at a wedding Friday night, listening to a countless array of teachers going on endlessly about how they would be doing nothing but sitting on the dock with their feet up for the next 6 weeks, but I really feel like I'm one of the few people who are actually quasi-working today. Maybe my mom was right all of those years she was trying to "convince me" (using a tactic somewhere between encouragement and extortion) to become a teacher.
In any event, if you are one of the unfortunate souls trapped in the office this week, here is some of the best stuff I've come across lately to help you through the day:
Rough Crossings: The Cutting of Raymond Carver
This is a fascinating piece taken from the December 24th edition of the New Yorker, describing the relationship between the short story savant Raymond Carver and his longtime editor, Gordon Lish.
If you're a struggling writer, this might be one of the most comforting/terrifying pieces you'll ever come across. Comforting in the sense that an editor can chop and slash your work into something altogether different from what you had originally intended, thereby insuring that the work gets published where it otherwise would have never had a chance. I'm sure that in most cases, the piece will ultimately be stronger for having undergone such scrupulous amputations, but I can tell you that having met with an editor for the first time in my life on Thursday, the prospect of having certain characters and philosophical pillars murdered; all in the name of brevity; is nothing short of terrifying.
To quote Jasper Rees: "The cutting room is a cruel place, where writing that may have cost blood to commit to paper is kneaded and pummelled like so much insensate clay."
To see exactly what an editor can do to a particular work, check out Lish's edit of Carver's "Beginners" (Lish even changed the title to "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"), and Carver's near suicidal correspondences with Lish in the aftermath. Does the end (Lish's edits improving the piece dramatically) justify the means (driving Carver to the brink of insanity)?
I guess it all depends on how badly you want the world to see your work. Because you can say exactly what you want to say and ignore the input of anyone else (who may very well have a far greater grasp of exactly what your work needs), but insodoing you risk the very real possibility of having that piece remain in your desk drawer forever, and you'll wind up living like Paul Giamatti's character from Sideways, with everybody always asking him about the progress of his novel that is doing little more than sitting in two boxes in the backseat of his car.
Is this a long-winded way of saying that the manuscript I've been working on for the past four years will be undergoing a slashing reminiscent of that guy chained to the pipe in SAW? Something like that. Let's move on.
This is Now Magazine's guide to the best Sandwiches in Toronto. An indespensible tool if you call the 416 home. I can personally vouche for the Wild Sockeye Salmon (The Fish Store, College and Grace), The Pemeal Bacon (St. Lawrence Market), TLamb Saytay (New York Subway, Queen and Ryerson), and The Italian Veal (California Sandwiches, Claremont and Treford), all of which are top shelf. I have to say, I'm intrigued by the Catfish and Shrimp Po' Boy, and the Smoked Meat (at the Monarch Tavern? Who knew?).
For those of you with a taste for the spicier side, check out Now's first annual survey of T.O.'s finest jerk chicken joints, aptly titled: The Jerk Off.
An Island in the Wind, by Elizabeth Kolber
A look at one Danish community's attempt to become an entirely sustainable island, and the prospect of living in a 2,000 Watt society. The verdict? It's a lot easier than you think.
Green Roof Sighting in Collingwood
One of the most poorly written articles I've come across in years. Misinformation, quoting the wrong people, facts butchered left, right, and centre... The only thing uglier is the picture of that dude at the top of the ladder.
Your Weekly Reminder of who was The Greatest Band in the History of Rock and Roll:
The E Street Band, circa 1978.
John "Peanuts" O'Flaherty.
They hockey world lost a legend last week.