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Making an Elephant

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  64 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In his first-ever work of nonfiction, Graham Swift—Booker Prize-winning author of Waterland and Last Orders—gives us a highly personal book: a singular and open-spirited account of a writer’s life.

Here 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. T
ebook, 416 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2004)
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Sep 29, 2009 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
In the introduction to this book, Graham Swift states that it started out as simply a collection of non-fiction pieces but that it ended up being somewhat of an autobiography as well. In my opinion it didn't really succeed on that level at all. I really didn't learn all that much about his life from this book other than he's a writer, has quite a few other writers as friends, and drinks quite a bit. For example early on in the book he mentions that he found the love of his life and married her a ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This took forever to read, not because I didn't like it, but it was something I could put down easily. I think it is a nice read for people who like his writing and his books. I personally enjoyed to read about his attitude and thoughts of writing itself.

However I would not recommend this to anyone unfamiliar with his work.

(I also have to admit I skipped most of the poetry, wasn't for me)
May 04, 2016 Po rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ang pakikisalamuha ng awtor sa kanyang buhay, personal, paglalakbay, at pakikipagkapuwa tao sa isang awtor na nagsilbing isa sa naka-impluwensiya sakaniya sa kanyang pagsusulat.

Mga hindi pangkaraniwang bagay na ginagawa na niya sa ngayon dahil sa pakikisalamuha sa isang kapwa awtor.

mas lumalim ang kayang pananaw at ideya upang magsulat ng nobela, tula at mga kwento patungkol sa kapaligiran at kanyang personal na dinanas.
Sep 19, 2014 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
I first came across Graham Swift's "Learning to Swim" published in a CUP series in 1997 but I decided to buy Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" instead. I didn't buy or read his novel because it was quite unfamiliar to me.

Then last month I saw this book in some bookstores, its cover reveals him as 'Author of the 1996 Booker Prize Winner, Last Orders'. I like its fonts large enough for me to read enjoyably so I kept reading and understood more on how he works or thinks as a novelist. I think
Deryck Hodge
This book on his life and writing is good, though not as good as other books I've read like this. I enjoyed the personal passages about his life, more than the thoughts on his craft. The chapter written on his father's death stands out as a moving essay.

I have always been a fan of Graham Swift's fiction, so as a fan, I enjoyed this book. It's not as good as others like this I've read. Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson is better by a contemporary British author, and Mystery and Manners by Flanner
Feb 11, 2015 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This isn't really about writing at all, nor is it about Graham Swift (which is a shame, because he's one of my favourite writers and I'd love to know how he does it). It is, however, a fairly interesting collection of essays, often involving encounters with other members of the literati. What pushes it up to four stars, for me, is the beautiful memoir of Swift's father, which illuminates what must have been a rather quiet (but important) life and makes it feel very special.
I've never read any Swift, so my intentions in picking this book were less than honourable: I had a couple of hours, and very little cash, to spend in town and this hardback was 2.99 in a discount bookshop.

I've always maintained that rudeness and arrogance are my most hated characteristics in people and thankfully Swift comes across as the absolute antithesis of these. Although it is a collection of previously published work, it is not just lazily chucked together nor, worse, presented as someth
Ryan Williams
Reading Making an Elephant is like probing gaps in the sofa: you'll find old tickets, lint ('Looking for Jiri Wolf: Prague, 1989', 'Guildhall Farce: 1983'); scraps of useless paper (all the poetry).

But you'll find pound coins, too. For me, the pound coin pieces are those that delve into the simple things in life - visiting Santa's Grotto, fishing, reading Isaac Babel for the first time - and return with a wealth of insight.

Perhaps the best of these is Swift's account of his early days as a write
May 02, 2016 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting thoughts from one of my favorite writers.
Angus McKeogh
Simply put...sometimes the author's work is much more interesting than the author themselves...or their personal thoughts outside the form of the novel.
May 09, 2013 sisterimapoet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction13
I spent many wonderful afternoons dipping into this collection. And each time I spent time in Mr Swift's company I felt I came to know him a little better, and love him a little more. I liked learning about how writing fits into his life, and how his life fits into his writing. It has made me want to read everything he's ever written! And it's made me want to write. Job done!
Strange experience. I prefer his fiction which curiously seems much more authentic than this collection of essays, poems, autobiographical writing. I occasionally cringed with embarrassment at the sense of trying to hard. And my inner voice begged him not to but he did - call Salman Rushdie Father Christmas.
Oct 11, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, to-buy
I LOVED this collection! In particular, two chapters that focused on his feelings on becoming a writer, his description of the struggle involved and how he worked through it in his 20s. Resonated with this 20-something here. :)
Emily Pinto
May 31, 2012 Emily Pinto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful variety! Graham Swift is a poet as well as a prose writer. This selection proves it!
work of non-fiction about writers and writing.
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Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born May 4, 1949) is a British author. He was born in London, England and educated at Dulwich College, London, Queens' College, Cambridge, and later the University of York. He was a friend of Ted Hughes.

Some of his works have been made into films, including Last Orders, which starred Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and Waterland which starred Jeremy Irons. Last Orders was a
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“A friend of his entered the restaurant, looking too, for whatever reason, a little frail. The was an exchange of token 'how are you's and 'oh, all right's. Then Alan said, with a rush of cheeriness, 'Hard work, isn't it - being all right?” 2 likes
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