This is a follow-up to my post on reading dated books. My question this time is, “Should a writer update his books for reprint?”
I’m asking because when I re-read Donald Hamilton’s LINE OF FIRE a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a reference to the Viet Nam conflict. That struck me because while I was reading a Gold Medal reprint from 1965 or so, the book had originally been published 10 years earlier. I checked out the Dell First Edition, and, sure enough, the reference there was to Korea. Someone, probably the Fawcett editor, had made the change.
One slightly controversial example was John D. MacDonald’s updating of his pulp stories for the collections titled THE GOOD OLD STUFF and MORE GOOD OLD STUFF. I don’t’ recall to many specifics, but I do remember that MacDonald was sure no one would remember Primo Carnera. Well, I do, but then I’m an old guy.
So did MacDonald do the right thing? If Hemingway were around should he fix up his short stories and present us with “The Gambler, the Nun, and the HD TV”? Or should writers leave well enough alone and let the stories stand or fall as they were when written, or should they update them for current readers?