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Sigh of Relief Dept.: Outtakes

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Yesterday, I finished editing a book I've been writing for over a decade. The Book's working title is How to Serve Man: On Cannibalism, Sex, Sacrifice, and the Nature of Eating.


It's about the irrational notions we have about all of those subjects, how they're interconnected, and how they got to be that way. People-eating provides the hook upon which all these speculations depend.

As someone else has said, "it's been a long strange trip."

Most of the time was spent in researching and writing, and every minute was a pleasure -- not a bit like work. However, the editing was a different story.

By "editing" I mean cutting about 30% of the text, deleting duplications and irrelevant (but tasty) digressions along the way... then going back to rewrite thousands of passages to ensure that the thing still made sense.

The classic advice to anyone about to begin such an endeavor is "kill the stuff you love."
Take no prisoners.
Be ruthless.
Sophie's Choice was probably Styron's way of complaining about the editing process.

And they wonder why so many writers drink.

Among the deleted "tasty digressions" and "stuff that I love" was an appendix featuring a listing of cinematic cannibals (actually a chronological listing of films that incorporate cannibal themes). While assembling the list, I was amazed at how many there were, and in how many ways the subject could be handled.

I was sorry to see it go -- but just because it won't be in the book, doesn't mean it's gone forever. If you're interested in such things, the list is here, for your perusal.


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