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Stories Up to a Point — Bette Pesetsky

Not much has been said, as far as we can determine, about Lish’s editing of Bette Pesetsky. Nothing was found about her work in Lish’s archives.   Stories Up to a Point was published by Knopf in January 1982 — 15 stories in 114 pages.

Justin Taylor wrote a review in the January 2011 issue The Believer. Pesetsky’s stories are terse and similar, just a bit, to Janet Kauffman’s work.  Like both (and Carver and Hannah, etc), Lish’s editorial hand is evident in every sentence and even the titles.

Look at some opening setences:

I was a student of people who call on the telephone to voices who talk on the radio.(“Moe, Nat, and Yrd”)

These old clippings say that my mother was an anarchist. (“The Theory of Sets”)

Mrs. B killed her spastic child. (“The Hobbyist”)

I have a garden of memories I visit as needed. (“Scratch”)

Lish published two other books by Pesetsky, both novels: Author from a Savage People and Digs, both which we will talk about at a later date.  After that, she moved away from Knopf, for unknown reasons, to various publishers like Harcourt and Harper & Row.

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