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Forget the Columbia Course; Aspiring Editors Should Work on Farms

20070117fisketjon.jpg

Fisketjon at the Bright Lights, Big City anniversary
party in 2004.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Venerable Knopf editor Gary Fisketjon received major treatment in The Oregonian last week (sorry for the delay, but it is Oregon, after all), and the mildly fawning look at the boot-shod margin-scribbler and his high-toned stable of writers and friends — Sonny Mehta, Gay Talese, T.C. Boyle, Richard Ford, Jay McInerney — duly documents his rise from a childhood on a mink farm to publishing powerhouse. The editor is famously beloved by his writers, and the profile kicks off as Fisketjon receives the Maxwell E. Perkins Award for "discovering, nurturing and championing writers of fiction" and then goes on to make much of the fact that a simple farm boy has risen to become heir to that famous editor. Here's a brief Oregonian description of those early days:

The mink ranch always came first. It was labor-intensive, and Fisketjon was the laborer from the time he was 4, feeding, checking and cleaning up after hundreds of aggressive animals that love to eat and bite the hand that feeds them.


"It was hard work," Fisketjon says. "Our ranch bordered on a park, and I remember looking out and watching my friends play while I was shoveling mink [manure]."

Nurturing a pack of needy animals, trying to keep them from biting the hand that feeds them, shoveling their shit endlessly. Shocking he works well with writers (and with Sonny Mehta), ain't it?

Is Gary Fisketjon the Best Editor in America? [Oregonian]

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