Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More is more.

Stanley Elkin, in a 1974 interview with The Paris Review, talks about his style:
My editor at Random House, Joe Fox, used to tell me, “Stanley, less is more.” He wanted to strike – oh, he had a marvelous eye for the “good” stuff – and that’s what he wanted to strike. I had to fight him tooth and nail in the better restaurants to maintain excess because I don’t believe that less is more. I believe that more is more. I believe that less is less, fat fat, thin thin and enough is enough. There’s a famous exchange between Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe in which Fitzgerald criticizes Wolfe for one of his novels. Fitzgerald tells him that Flaubert believed in the mot précis and that there are two kinds of writers – the putter-inners and the taker-outers. Wolfe, who probably was not as good as Fitzgerald but evidently wrote a better letter, said, “Flaubert me no Flauberts. Shakespeare was a putter-inner, Melville was a putter-inner.” I can’t remember who else was a putter-inner, but I’d rather be a putter-inner than a taker-outer.
(For the correct quotation from Flaubert, see the footnote at the bottom of page 5 of the interview.)

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