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Jury Selection

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When he received the revised copy of his latest manuscript, Lionel was delighted with the result. His editor had done wonders to rescue what had seemed fated to be the latest episode in a long series of literary ventures with no future. The forty-year-old, who was now on his fifth work for as many editors, had this time found the rare pearl.

From the very first chapter, now much more gripping than his previous version, he had been caught up in his own story, as he had never been when he was writing or even more painfully rereading it. The prose had lost all its sloppiness. Its images, that had been rather vague, were sharp and precise. It was as if a veil had been lifted from his words, or rather his ideas, which he had so struggled to produce. The style was thereby given new life. Its language, normally disjointed and difficult for his few readers to follow, had been straightened out under the influence of the young woman. The text had fresh energy, thus gaining a whole new dimension quite different from the one he had bestowed on it.

Yet the main discovery lay elsewhere: his hero, a gruff and grouchy fellow, rebuffed by everyone, had become distinctly more approachable. Without any drastic changes having been made – just a few words replaced by synonyms, at the very most – his limpness had been lost and his vocabulary increased.

The lump in his throat and his trembling hands were not deceiving him. He was holding a real best-seller in his hands, without the shadow of a doubt.

Once he had reached the end of his exciting read, there was only one correction left for him to do, the only error that his editor had not spotted. He changed the name inscribed on the first page and congratulated himself on having discovered a new character in literature.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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