Friday, October 01, 2004

Granta is 25 years old in its current incarnation, & its editor, Ian Jack, has been musing over the magazine's history. My favourite bit:

To help me get a few facts into these anniversary notes, I have been going through the files of Granta correspondence. Since 1998 or so, email has eaten into the richness of these. Letters now are a rarity. This may be bad news for the biographer, but at least it saves editors the pain of revisiting their laxity. Out of Granta has come a torrent of editorial sorrow and hand-wringing, letters to contributors, would-be and actual, that begin: "A thousand million apologies" or "I am so sorry for this late reply" or "I am sorry to be so slow/so late/so careless". One letter, to Martha Gellhorn, consists of the single word "sorry" typed a hundred times. Another of my favourites goes:

"My treatment of you has been shabby and terrible and certainly not human ... your piece got inadvertently paper-clipped to another manuscript and was therefore misfiled: I found it after several regular, frantic searches over the course of the last few months, hoping each time to try and elevate myself from the horrible, humiliating predicament I found myself in - of not getting back to you properly. I am sorry. This is the second time this has happened and both times because of a mishap. But this is still not to excuse me: it wouldn't have taken but a phone call to let you know that I didn't think that 'Tall Trees' would work in our biography issue."

Perhaps I'm not the worst editor in the world after all, at least not when it comes to answering correspondence.

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