MBTI Type: ISFJ
Max has an incredible ability to sense the root potential in others, beneath their absurdities; he has such profound knowledge of the craft of writing, and is such an excellent line by line editor that he sees the bare bones potential in Thomas Wolfe, after every other editor and publisher rejects his bloated first manuscript. Max handles the tedium of shaving 90 thousand words off that book with dedication, attentiveness to detail, and ruthless scrutiny… and then spends two years wrestling with Wolfe over the word count on his next novel. He develops more than just business relationships; he tries to foster intimate relationships with his clients, and he stands with them through the good times and bad. Max has a real talent for nurturing people and their relationships, and gives Fitzgerald money to help him get through the bad times, even though his book hasn’t made any royalties in the last six months. He has a great deal of patience and compassion for people, and works with authors to improve their books by having them do the editing and explaining why it needs done, rather than just crossing things out and deleting them himself. He wants them happy with the finished product, and to nurture them as a writer, and beneath his skilled hands, best-sellers take place. Max is tactful when he edits books and tells them what he loves about their prose, even if he wants them to shorten it. When angry with Wolfe, he lectures him about not having enough compassion or feeling what other people feel, but instead being self-absorbed and wrapped up in his own thoughts. He forces the author to stop his rant against Fitzgerald’s laziness by pointing out how Wolfe has written 5 thousand words today, and Fitzgerald is fortunate to write 100… on a good day, due to his financial problems, his unstable wife, and his self-doubt. Max has such strong personal feelings about certain books that he prioritizes them above all, and gives it his all. Fitzgerald observes of him that his greatest genius is not his literary accomplishments, but his “genius for friendship.” He can be a workaholic, and sometimes neglects his family in the process; his wife accuses him of living too much in novels, when “the real world needs you.” But Max is one of the best editors in the business; under his detached, logical precision, the greatest works of the modern age (Wolfe, Fitzgerald, Hemingway) take shape, and many of them land on the bestseller list. His mantra is, if it distracts from the meaning the author wants to convey, it has to go – even if it’s beautiful. Max confess that sometimes he wonders if editors destroy the work they strive to hone into perfection; if it was ideal, how it was… but the truth is, he doesn’t just strip a novel, he crafts it. He sees through all the purple prose and metaphors to the greatness of Wolfe’s first novel, and what it could become, in a more idealized state… but he has little patience for ideas that detract from the main scope of the novel. He complains that Wolfe keeps going off topic and inventing new stories (high Ne) when Max is trying to get him to PARE DOWN.
Enneagram: 9w1 sp/so
Max is quite a remarkable person in how he manages to put up with authors over such immense periods of time, as he argues with them about their prose, tries to get Wolfe to reduce his word count, and patiently keeps doing this for two years… just to polish one book. He manages to stay friends with Wolfe, even though he disagrees a lot of the time about his life choices, and when Wolfe’s mistress confronts him with a gun and asks him who she should shoot, he calmly replies, “I suppose that leaves me.” He’s also a bit eccentric and withdrawn; wearing a fedora at all times (even at the table) and looking for a quiet place to read in his family home (to no avail). Max doesn’t like to create upsets with his wife, but also can be stubborn about doing things in his own way—he doesn’t take one vacation to work on the book. He has an incredible capacity for forgiveness and generosity, as he remains loyal and positive-thinking about Wolfe, even after their relationship has become strained. But he gets rather hot under the collar about Wolfe’s treatment of other people—he throws him out of the house one time when he’s drunk and lets him have it, lecturing him on his selfishness and rudeness. He also takes great pride in his work and wants to do a good job with it. He helps people out of a sense of duty and generosity.