I came across this fascinating New York Times article the other day. It raises some important questions, I think, about the degree of influence an editor has over a writer's work. If Carver really was desperately unhappy about planned changes, should his editor have given way? After all, the edited versions are what made Carver's reputation. Is the issue, in fact, that editors get too little credit, when we're talking about live writers, at least (they generally get a better deal when they've rounded up the works of dead writers)? In the music world, for example, producers are often recognised for the large amount of creative input they have, so why should it be different in the world of literature?
I'd have to say that my own very limited experience of editors, with my chapbook and with magazines, has been very good. It's good to be forced to justify (to yourself as much as to anyone else) just why a certain line or image needs to stay in place, and of course there's always the couldn't-see-it-for-looking-at-it type of howler or bum note.