About SWC

Born and raised in Paterson, N.J., SWC was educated at NYU, Columbia University, and during a lifetime career of indexing books. His attraction to indexing, he believes, may have been inherited from his father, a musician and self-taught polymath who compiled encyclopedic notebooks and a directory of nineteenth-century Patersonians for his private delectation.

Following a stint on the city desk of an army daily in Manila and the editorship of a biographical dictionary, SWC went on to teach in the English departments of CUNY, LIU, and Rutgers University.  More recently, he has taught indexing at NYU.

SWC turned to book indexing by a sequence of small, but apparently unretraceable steps, finding the indexing muse to be tenaciously seductive.  He found also that he could lure others into what he calls “the silent service” by teaching these new acolytes the skills and methods that had brought him more work than he alone could comfortably accept.

Together, in what Enid Stubin termed as “a warren of rooms on lower Fifth Avenue,” SWC and “the Associates” continued to turn out indexes of identifiable quality and style. In 1985 he was called New York’s “premier indexer” in a New York magazine profile.

When his Wilson Award-winning index for Cerf and Navasky’s The Experts Speak was described as loveable by Leonore Fleischer in Publishers Weekly under the heading “Indexing, Laughs in,” SWC was encouraged to seek authors who might appreciate indexes that were entertaining as well as informative. One such author was A.J. Jacobs who called upon SWC to index his best-selling Know-It-All and  Year of Living Biblically.

In 2002, in a move that was intended to return SWC to his first love, conducting Mahler symphonies from somewhere near his stereo equipment, he sold his indexing business to Chris Carruth.  Retirement, however, is never much of an option for indexers; SWC continues to edit and now and then index for CohenCarruth, Inc.  Asked about his age, SWC is likely to respond with customary evasiveness, “I don’t think it’s anyone’s business, certainly  not mine.” And so why does SWC enter the blogosphere at this time of his life, whatever that might be? “I think I have something to say,” he tells us, “and this just might be the place to say it.”

— June Bissell