Swartz, Mark 1968-

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SWARTZ, Mark 1968-

PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1968, in Cincinnati, OH; son of Robert (a plastic surgeon) and Laurel (Goldman) Swartz; married Jennifer Guilfoyle (an attorney), September 30, 2001. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1990; University of Chicago, M.A., 1993. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Jewish,

ADDRESSES: HomeNew York, NY. Agent—Andrew Blauner, Blauner Books Literary Agency, 12 East 86th St., Suite 633, New York, NY 10028. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Gale Research Co., Detroit, MI, editor, 1990-93; University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, editor, 1994-96; American Hospital Association, Chicago, IL, editor, 1996-97; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY writer/editor, 1999—. Member, Salt 18 art collective.


(With Judy Galens) Artists: From Michelangelo to Maya Lin, Volumes 3 and 4, U*X*L (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Instant Karma (novel), City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 2002.

Contributor of stories, reviews, nonfiction, and satire to periodicals and online sites, including ACM, artkrush.com, Bookforum, Bridge, Chelsea, Chicago Reader, Circa (Dublin, Ireland), Mississippi Review, New Art Examiner, Other Voices, River Oak Review, Salon.com, Stinging Fly, and Village Voice.


SIDELIGHTS: Mark Swartz told CA: "Ever since I worked as an editor for Gale Research's 'Literary Criticism' series, I have been interested in the obscure and marginal byways of literary history. My novel, Instant Karma, which takes place in the Chicago Public Library, is extensively footnoted with texts nobody reads anymore. The goal is not obscurity in itself, but rather discovering lost voices that speak to me louder than canonical texts. This search has made me rather self-conscious as a writer, and my novel-in-progress, ostensibly about water, also traces its own thirst for inspiration."

In Swartz's debut novel, an eccentric young man named David Felsenstein records his increasingly psychotic thoughts and actions in a diary. Haunting the Chicago public library and pouring over obscure books, Felsenstein conceives a plan to make his own mark on the world: he decides to blow up the library. In an interview for the City Lights Web site Swartz said he felt a degree of sympathy for his central character and his obsessive delusions. "Sure he's creepy, like a lot of people you see in the library," the author said. "And dangerous. But he's got a sense of humor and an inkling of his own absurdity, which makes his sincere devotion to artistic and spiritual matters hopefully a little more tolerable."

Instant Karma drew praise from reviewers for its intellectual content and its depiction of a potentially lethal terrorist. A Chicago Tribune correspondent called the work a "concentrated and diabolically clever novel." Philip Santo in Library Journal likewise found the book "clever and well written," and Donna Seaman in Booklist commended its "lithe satirical humor, impressive intellectual dimension, and sly provocation." A Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed Instant Karma an "intriguing debut," concluding that Swartz "is a decent writer with a solid grasp of intellectual concepts."



Booklist, February 1, 2002, review of Artists: From Michelangelo to Maya Lin, p. 958; October 1, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of Instant Karma, p. 302.

Chicago Tribune, October 27, 2002, review of Instant Karma.

Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Philip Santo, review of Instant Karma, p. 130.

Publishers Weekly, October 7, 2002, review of Instant Karma, p. 53.


City Lights Web site, http://www.citylights.com/ (January 29, 2003), interview with Swartz.