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LAist interview: Mark Sarvas

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Mark Sarvas has championed local reading series, excoriated the LA Times Book Review, and tirelessly blogged about all things literary on his site The Elegant Variation. With its smart writing, frequent updates and splashes of wicked humor, it has become required daily reading — for both Angelenos and folks in the Big Established Publishing World in NY. He is also a founding member of the LitBlog Co-Op (more about that below), which announced its latest book recommendation — Garner by Kirstin Allio — today. Mark has helped raise LA's literary profile, reminding the rest of the world that we're not just about breast implants and lunch at The Ivy.

How long have you lived in Los Angeles? What neighborhood do you call home?
It will be twenty years this August, and after far too much moving around (Beverly Center, Beverlywood, Westwood, Pacific Palisades, Mid-Wilshire), I've settled down in Santa Monica.

What exactly is a litblog?
Depending on whom you ask, they're either the future of publishing or they're narcissistic parasites. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and I content myself to describe litblogs as journals of their proprietor's enthusiams — which in my case happens to be literary fiction. The truth is that litblogs come in a wide range of flavors, with some merely providing links to the literary news and reviews of the day, and with other, more ambitious sites providing considerable amounts of original content, including reviews and interviews.

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How many hours a day do you devote to your litblog, The Elegant Variation?
(Inaudible mumbled reply.)

What's the LitBlog Coop?
It's an experiment, and one that's going quite well, I'm pleased to say. It's a group of about 20 high profile literary bloggers who get together four times a year to pick a book and say "Read this." Sort of like Oprah with better taste and a fraction of the readership. But the Co-op is gaining some real momentum — we're hearing tales of nominated publishers increasing their print runs — and the mix of books (which tends to focus on smaller presses and less well known titles) is never anything short of eclectic and fascinating. In the round of choices announced today, we've got experimental fiction, science fiction, and mainstream fiction, to cite just three of the five.