Novelist Eleanor Catton and her editor Max Porter’s alliance shows how much more than wielding a blade goes into this relationship: The Guardian
Henry James called editing “the butchers’ trade”. But he also said, “I glory in the piling up of complications of every sort,” so you can see how the old anglophile and his editors may have crossed horns.
However, if we’re honest, wouldn’t we, the reader, prefer to chew over a well-honed slice of literature than wade through fatty hunks of unedited, flabby prose? Isn’t the editor’s first loyalty to the reader, and not the author? Isn’t it better to wield the knife than to club out something that the cow might approve of?