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Monday, May 3, 2021

'Make ordinary simple words do extraordinary things'

“The real art is not to come up with extraordinary clever words but to make ordinary simple words do extraordinary things. To use the language that we all use and to make amazing things occur.”  Graham Swift

Born on this date in London in 1949, Swift is considered one of the most important “contemporary” British writers.  His first novel, The Sweet Shop Owner, was published in 1980, and his subsequent works have won much praise and many awards. Waterland, in particular, was one of the finalists for the prestigious Booker Prize.   Both Waterland and his book Last Orders have also been made into well-received movies.

Swift made the news for comments that e-books are not something authors should support or be happy about.  “Unfortunately writers take a very small part of the profit on their books, and I think in the e-book world there is a real danger they will take even less, unless they are vigilant and robust about protecting their own interests,” he noted.      

Swift is a meticulous and deliberate writer and decries those who say Swift, ironically, writes too slow.

“It can be dismaying, all the same, for a novelist to compare the slowness of the writing with the speed of the reading,” he said.  “Novels are read in a matter of days, even hours.  A writer may labor for weeks over a particular passage that will have its effect on a reader for an instant - and that effect may be subliminal or barely noticed.”


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