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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Max Perkins and Writings Evolution

What is amazing is that Max Perkins took so many writers and created their books for them. What he did is unheard of now. You are a writer in 1935 and you take your manuscript to New York and bang on the door of Scribners and Sons and ask to see Max Perkins. He sees you and then he takes you out for drinks and he actually reads the inchoate mess you have in a shoe box that is maybe an idea and some fleshed out pages and then he calls you back and says I think you have talent and I will put you under contract for a  book.

Yet this happened again and again. From Here To Eternity was not a book until Perkins suggested to James Jones he write something about the War and Jones sent him a few chapters and then years later there was a book. The point is this type of literary development is unheard of now. You either come up with something ready to go or you don't even bother. The inverse of Perkins day is now where writers have to do it all. Then writers just had to come up with an idea and show promise.

But by the end Perkins time passed even him. His style of developing literary writers was already falling by the wayside and when he died a way of publishing died with him. There will certainly never be another Max Perkins and those writers who did very well by him are gone too. They probably didn't realize how good they had it.

Who does.

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