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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 18                       447


                Shortly after I exited, Embry told me that he was replacing I Am Curious
             (Leather) aka Leather Blues with John Preston’s Mr. Benson, a nice-enough
             novella that I had personally edited for serialization which I began publish-
             ing in Drummer 29 (May 1979). Trying to pit Preston and me against each
             other, he was playing both ends against the middle. That is precisely how
             he grew his divisive Blacklist. That bit of intimidation forced the East Coast
             Preston, who was motivated by the lust all young writers have to be pub-
             lished, to be co-opted on the West Coast. Preston arrived at Drummer with
             his Benson draft but no job. After four years as a sex hustler, he claimed he
             found it difficult to sell his wares—that had sold in LA—to San Franciscans
             swimming laps in more free sex than the world had ever seen.
                To make his novice career move seductively into Embry’s Drummer
             Plantation, Preston knew that to get what he wanted he had to choose sides
             on the Blacklist to rescue his lifebuoy, Mr. Benson. According to Out for
             Good (p. 247), it was well known that Goodstein had taught Preston to
             be the enforcer of the Blacklist of writers at The Advocate. Preston, who
             had “curtly” blacklisted dozens of faithful Advocate writers, including the
             famous activist Arthur Evans, knew this divisive credential would appeal to
             the tempestuous Embry who envied all things Goodstein. Like most first-
             time novelists, Preston was desperate. He truly feared for his Mr. Benson
             because in 1979 there was no other existing publisher for it but Embry, and
             that manuscript was in bondage because Embry had so many puppet strings
             attached. Preston did not want his novel dropped as mine had been. Soon
             after Preston submitted and swore fealty, puppeteer Embry, sharpening his
             Blacklist words to a stiletto, went on to advertise the magazine-sized “book”
             Mr. Benson with the code words “original and unedited.” That phrase was
             his cheeky swipe at my serial editing of Benson which readers liked in terms
             of the story. Embry’s “book” edition was neither “original” or “unedited.”
             In fact, all of Preston’s writing required editing. Preston’s friend, author
             Lars Eighner, wrote in “John Preston Goes in Search of an Author’s Lost
             Manuscript,” in www.DuskPeterson.com:

                Preston was always heavily edited [e.g.:  Mr Benson].... Preston’s
                stuff, which would have been perfectly clear told at a campfire,
                needed major surgery—often at the paragraph level—to put into
                print. Preston was very well aware of this, which is why he admired
                writers so much. Preston often told (wrote to) me that he needed a
                lot of editing. I thought he was being modest...until I was given the
                task of editing...his raw copy.




               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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