Today is a heartbreaking day at The New Yorker. Ann Goldstein, the longtime head of our copy-editing department, is leaving the magazine. Copy editing — two words — may sound to outsiders like a job of lesser significance, but it is, in fact, fairly monumental. The New Yorker has an idiosyncratic and byzantine array of house rules concerning style; I wrote some years back about the disconcerting experience of being edited by the legendary Eleanor Gould-Packard. Ann has long been the supreme custodian of the sense of a New Yorker voice, and she has a way of applying those rules without disrupting the flow of a writer’s thought. Indeed, being herself a writer and translator of great skill, she invariably makes the writing more elegant. It is as if a slightly blurry image were snapping into perfect focus. I learned as much about writing from Ann as from any teacher in school. (She would surely have improved upon that sentence.) The loss is made heavier by the recent departure of the no less beloved Mary Norris, another copy-editing mainstay. Mary recently embarked on a new career as an author, with her book Confessions of a Comma Queen. Ann, too, has moved into the limelight, with her acclaimed translations of Primo Levi and Elena Ferrante, among others. All of us are happy for them, and yet it is very difficult to say farewell to editors of such brilliance. My own gratitude is limitless. “Almost limitless?” Ann might suggest, fearing imprecision. No, limitless.

from Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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