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Biography

Mark Sarvas lives the quiet life in Los Angeles, where he has been a newspaper editor, travel agent and bass player. He has written episodic comedy for HBO and Showtime as well as screenplays for Warner Brothers, producer David Foster, and the World Entertainment and Business Network. His fiction has appeared in Troika Magazine, The Wisconsin Review, Apostrophe, Thought Magazine, Pindeldyboz and as part of the Spoken Interludes and Vermin on the Mount reading series in Los Angeles. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Threepenny Review, The Modern Word, Boldtype and the Los Angeles Review, and he is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He is best known as the host of the popular and controversial literary weblog “The Elegant Variation” which has been mentioned in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Guardian (A Top 10 Literary Blog), Forbes Magazine (Best of the Web), Los Angeles Magazine (A Top L.A. Blog), The Scotsman, Salon, the Christian Science Monitor, Slate, The Village Voice, NPR and numerous other fine publications. He is also a founding member of the Litblog Co-op, a group of 21 literary blogs dedicated to drawing attention to the best of contemporary fiction. His debut novel, HARRY, REVISED, will be published by Bloomsbury in Winter 2008.

The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

Author Photo: Sara Corwin