The Little, Brown and Company Collection of David Foster Wallace contains the files
of Michael Pietsch, David Foster Wallace's Little, Brown editor from Infinite Jest (1996) to The Pale
King (2011). The collection contains only a single, unmarked excerpt
from The Pale King however, with the majority of
these materials residing in the David Foster Wallace Papers at the Ransom Center.
Materials in the collection include personal and professional correspondence between
Wallace and Pietsch as well as between Pietsch and publishing staff; copy editing
files containing manuscript transmittal and design checklists, design proofs,
publicity photographs, style sheets, and other items related to book production
promotion; many unmarked and slightly-marked drafts of Wallace pieces sent for
Pietsch's review; Pietsch's handwritten reading notes; a Little, Brown author's
questionnaire related to Infinite Jest; and editing
stickies from drafts of various works.
The collection is organized in a single series: Series I. Little, Brown Files. The
materials remain grouped as they arrived at the Ransom Center, with the original
file names intact and only minor organizational changes made such as perfecting
chronological arrangement of correspondence, for example.
A highlight of the collection is the correspondence of Wallace and Pietsch.
Beginning in late 1987, their letters document a growing friendship, mainly through
discussion of contemporary literature, and in 1992 the start of a strong
professional relationship after Bonnie Nadell sent a partial manuscript of Infinite Jest to Pietsch. Their correspondence also
reveals Wallace's attention to detail through letters containing, for example,
pages of "explanatory notes and helpful design suggestions," a sixteen page response
in which he agrees to cut or change over 150 endnotes, and a six-point explanation
and defense for those copious endnotes. Overall the correspondence shows Wallace's
struggle both producing work and through the editing processes of cutting and
revising his writing. A letter also reveals that Pietsch kept no drafts of edited
manuscripts, explaining the reason for the mostly unmarked drafts in the collection
and the disjoined editing stickies.