Mark Sarvas

» Episode 4: Inside Out

“Harry Rent used to fiddle with his wedding ring, now he fiddles with the space it has left behind.”

Mark Sarvas' debut novel, Harry, Revised, is being published in more than a dozen countries around the world. He is best known as the host of the popular and sometimes controversial literary blog The Elegant Variation, which has been singled out as one of the best on the web by The Guardian, Forbes Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine, among others. Sarvas’ book reviews and criticism have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Threepenny Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Morning News, and several other publications. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Sarvas is a cycling enthusiast, who once finished in the top 10% among 7,000 cyclists in the El Tour de Tucson, a 109-mile race. From age 16 to 20, he was in a Beatles sound-alike band. He played bass and piano. ("I was Paul," he says.) He met McCartney twice -- once in 1981 in London outside of his office in Soho Square, and in 1984 when he interviewed him as a college journalist at New York University.

While taking lessons from international master Jack Peters, Sarvas had a brief stint as a tournament chess player. "I had great enthusiasm but little talent," he says, although he had enough talent to make an 11-year-old (a future star) cry: "We were playing a tournament game (it's not unusual to see 12-year-olds playing senior citizens) and I had stumbled into a fork (two of my pieces under attack from a single pawn). After 20 minutes of thinking, I saw the way out -- a sacrifice that would have lost him his queen. I made the move; he immediately saw the continuation and began to cry. I offered him a draw. He looked at me uncomprehendingly. ‘But you're winning!’ I held out my hand. ‘Take the draw.’ He did -- and he went on to become one of the highest rated players in the LA area."

Sarvas lives with his wife in Pacific Palisades, California.

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Book section. New York Magazine, April 21, 2008

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