04 November 2009

Fifteen Hands

"What I learned from editing that book [Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit] was just how important it is for a book to actually leave you with a feeling. I had been a very analytical guy up to that point, in terms of my editing. For nonfiction, I had always assumed that if it made sense and was well written and had an important point to it, people would respect it and like it. But that isn't what it's about, ultimately. People have to be moved by it. And there was something going on between the lines in that book, from beginning to end. I could give you lots of reasons why I think it's moving. It's a terrific transformation story: The horse is transformed by these three men, and the three men are transformed by the horse. It's about winning. It's about overcoming adversity. And the writer's reasons for writing the book were pure and personal. It was infused with a kind of passion that you very rarely encounter in nonfiction -- and that passion was augmented by a degree of focus and precision that you rarely find. So the book worked on every level. It worked on a prose level, it worked on a story level, and it worked on an emotional level."
-Interview with Jonathan Karp-