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McSweeney's Issue 1 (McSweeney's Quarterly…
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McSweeney's Issue 1 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern): Gegenshein

by Dave Eggers

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I've been a fan of Dave Eggers since I read his A Heartbreaking Work... back in '06 and was struck by his style (and that honesty! Whoo! I love it!), but never really bothered to check into McSweeney's after a "What's the point?" sort of first impression I had by glancing at the Internet Tendency. I don't know what the hell it was, but there was something, that made me look at the McSweeney's catalogue and freak out over how cool the different designs were a few months ago; the designs and the collectability of the issues made me...ahhh, waste a hell of a lot of money the other month. I started with the Instant Gratification subscription, started reading issue 14, and halfway through began ordering nearly every issue I could find, and got myself set up with a subscription for the next four issues (I wish they still had the lifetime subscriptions going on...or do they? in...secret?). Pathetic, I know. This, issue one, Gegenshein, is my second to be read, and I really prefer it over 14 (although nothing--nothing!--beats the article on gerbils in China) due to a consistency of quality within story after story. Some of the journalistic pieces were a tad weak, and they seemed to improve in subsequent issues. "Old Dogs, New Tricks: The Twilight of Modernism, and the Dawn of Neo-Senilists" being the lamest offering (but still not anywhere near bad!).

Highlights of the issue include "Man's Fat--98: Learning to Love Again, A Story in Three Parts" by Neal Pollack (the braggings of the most arrogant, oblivious narrator I've ever come across), "Yet Another Example of the Porousness of Certain Borders (VIII)" by the always, always fantastic David Wallace (mothers, spiders), "Mollusks" by Arthur Bradford (friendship, love, mollusks), and the epic finisher, "Wooden Duck Decoys of the Heart," made up of many vignettes by a number of killer authors, the best of them done by Todd Pruzan, whose epic final chapter had me literally rolling all over the room, gasping in a struggle to both breathe and laugh profusely; Todd succeeded in wording it so damn perfectly. (God...man, that fucking bus...those penguins....) I remember having trouble keeping my awkward chuckles down when reading the Paul Theroux bit as well, thinking it a stupidly unfunny idea upon reading the title*, but as the Paul Therouxs piled up, going on...and...on...not...ending...

I have recently completed the immediate younger brother to issue 1, and the quality continues. My recommendation to all folks out there, if you want to try out McSweeney's, the best place to start is either a) the Instant Gratification Subscription (currently featuring issues 14, 15, 16, and 18) for $25 on McSweeney's.net, or b) McSweeney's Issues One Through Three through Amazon for $27-30 (regularly $42). Both are solid deals and places to start. Check it.

F.V.: 80. Maybe 85. [Edit: Definitely 80.]

*"A SHORT STORY, EXTRACTED FROM CHAPTER 6 OF PAUL THEROUX'S 1997 NOVEL KOWLOON TONG, PRINTED WITHOUT ALTERATIONS TO THE ORIGINAL TEXT, EXCEPT THAT IN THIS CASE NEARLY ALL OF THE WORDS HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH THE WORDS 'PAUL THEROUX'"

[8 other members at time of review.] ( )
4 vote alaskayo | Feb 15, 2008 |
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