Breaking Down Sentences and Style via Gordon Lish

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If you think of Gordon Lish, now best known for editing Raymond Carver’s work, as an “eccentric editor; tyrannical teacher; notorious provocateur,” you may need to take a second look.

In a roundtable for the Center for Fiction’s Literarian, David Winters, Greg Gerke, Jason Lucarelli use Lish as a gateway to discussion of issues of style in the work of many fiction writers. A preview:

The “attack sentence”—the first sentence in a story—seems to be the assault of the writer’s spirit onto the reader’s. It is like we are answering the question “What are you hiding?” with that first sentence.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →