“John is one of the calmest, most generous and most skilled editors I’ve worked with. He has meant a great deal to me and to so many writers at McSweeney’s. A great editor knows what you’re trying to do—because they ask—and then, through gentle suggestion and incisive interrogation (or is it incisive suggestion and gentle interrogation?), they help you achieve it. John is this kind of editor.”
— Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s and author of The Circle, The Monk of Mokha, and A Hologram for the King, among other books
“John McMurtrie is an astute, skilled, and thoughtful editor who knows how to make text shine. He’s also incredibly generous, and keenly attuned to the dynamics of marginalization and inclusivity that impact many writers as we strive to bring our words to light. I’d trust him with any manuscript or project. He’s an absolute gem."
— Carolina De Robertis, author of the novels The Invisible Mountain, Perla, The Gods of Tango, and Cantoras
“The project I was working on required my taking on a wholly unfamiliar voice, a new language pallet, a tone I had never struck before, and I found that I didn't truly know what I wanted it to sound like until John began editing for me. He was as wisely ruthless with his line edits as he was intuitive about my larger vision for the book. It’s an understatement to say I’m grateful my publisher found him, and no overstatement to say that my novel as it exists today would not have been possible without John’s collaboration. He’s a smart, smart editor.”
— John Brandon, author of the novels Arkansas, Citrus County, and A Million Heavens
“John is a brilliant, generous, and gracious editor. His respect for a writer’s voice is matched with a keen eye for clarity and specificity. I have appreciated and enjoyed every time we’ve worked together. I highly recommend him.”
— Imani Perry, Harvard University professor and author of South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, among other books
"John is able to see an author's vision, understand where they've gone astray, and suggest in the gentlest and most respectful terms how to find the path again. John works comfortably at the essential nexus of line and developmental editing—he is part coach, part wrangler, part surgeon, and always practicing a kind of diagnostic editorial sorcery that writers don't know they need till they need it. John is that great rarity among editors: a tactician with the heart of a strategist who bears a genuine professional curiosity about how to make writing—and writers—better."
— Bill Cotter, author of the novels Fever Chart and The Parallel Apartments
"I had John McMurtrie as an editor on many pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle and he never betrayed his own high standards for thoughtfulness, care and courtesy. He ran a fine section at the paper despite many obstacles in the nature of the newspaper business.”
— David Thomson, author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood, and The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us, among other books
“John commissioned and edited my first book review ten years ago, and every review and article I’ve worked with him on since has been a wonderful experience. He has a canny sense of how to match writers to their subjects and how to balance clarity with complexity in prose. He’s also a delight to work with—efficient, timely, clear, and kind.”
— Namwali Serpell, author of the novels The Old Drift and The Furrows
“John lives and breathes books. I’ve rarely encountered an editor with his level of taste and judgment, to say nothing of passion and professionalism. The years I spent reviewing for him were some of my happiest as a critic. I couldn’t recommend him more enthusiastically.”
— Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race and Losing My Cool: Love, Literature, and a Black Man's Escape from the Crowd