A hundred percent. That didn’t repeat itself; that wasn’t our normal relationship. But I was a basket case, and I had absolutely no confidence that I could put my left foot forward and then the right one after that. He was patient.

I remember there was one piece we were working on that had this weird pun in it. And Bingham said, You know that pun there? That’s terrible, that’s really bad. And I said, I want it to stay there. I like that. And he says, Well, you’re the writer; I just work here. And then we go on talking about other things and everything else. Twenty-four hours go by, we’re back at his desk, he says, You know that line there? Um, it’s really bad, you should think about it again. I said, Bobby, we talked about that. I like that line. And then he mentioned it a third time and I said something similar. Another day went by, and I walked into his office, first thing I say, Bob, you know that pun there? Take it out, OK? It’s no good.

Paris Review – The Art of Nonfiction No. 3, John McPhee


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