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Making an Elephant
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Making an Elephant

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803213,248 (3.5)7
Member:clevercelt
Title:Making an Elephant
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Info:Picador USA, Paperback, 416 pages
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Making an Elephant: Writing from Within by Graham Swift

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To non-native speakers of English, the expression "making an elephant" immediately calls to mind the proverb, which, rendered into English would read "making an elephant out of a fly" from Latin elephantem ex musca facere which means to exaggerate the importance of something trivial.

Although it can hardly have been the author's intention to suggest that meaning, unfortunately that meaning presents itself very persistently while reading this book. It is Graham Swift's first volume of miscellaneous writings, some autobiographical sketches, some literary criticism, some interviews, and 50 poems etc. Although the interviews themselves are quite insignificant, they nonetheless serve to define Graham Swift as a contemporary of writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Caryl Phillips and Patrick McGrath.

Many pieces are quite uninteresting, and speak entirely for themselves. Nonetheless, and quite unprecedented, each piece of writing is preceded by an introduction of three to five pages! Utterly superfluous, verily making a mountain of a molehill. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jan 2, 2012 |
I had largely given up on this author after 'Last Orders' but following my policy of picking up one random book each library visit I have changed my mind. I am really enjoying this and his insights into writers and writing. I will go back to his back list. ( )
  adrianburke | Sep 4, 2010 |
For anyone who read and liked WATERLAND by Graham Swift, a must read. Non-fiction including previously published articles, interviews (with Swift himself and with Swift as the interviewer). Talks about the process of writing and how 'place' becomes part of a piece of writing. ( )
  booksx2 | Oct 2, 2009 |
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As generous in its scope as it is acute in its observations, Making an Elephant brings together a richly varied selection of essays, portraits, poetry and interviews, full of insights into Graham Swift{u2019}s passions and motivations, and wise about the friends, family and other writers who have mattered to him over the years. Kazuo Ishiguro advises on how to choose a guitar; Salman Rushdie arrives for Christmas under guard; Caryl Phillips shares a beer with the author at a nightclub in Toronto. There are private moments with his father and with his own younger self, as well as musings on history, memory and imagination that illuminate the work of a writer who, in his fiction, regards it as ?a mark of achievement? when his own voice and presence vanish into his characters. A journey through place and time, conversation, encounters and ideas, Making an Elephant brims with charm and candor, an alertness to experience and a true engagement with words{u2014}in short, with what it means to believe that writing and reading are an essential part of living.… (more)

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