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McSweeney's Issue 3: Windfall Republic

by Dave Eggers (Editor)

Other authors: Steve Amick (Contributor), Zev Borow (Contributor), Arthur Bradford (Contributor), Judy Budnitz (Contributor), Paul Collins (Contributor)40 more, Ana Marie Cox (Contributor), Dean F. Cully (Contributor), Jason De Joux (Contributor), Ken Foster (Contributor), Gary Greenberg (Contributor), Brian Greene (Interview), Jim Hanas (Contributor), Kirsten Hass (Contributor), A. Hemon (Contributor), Brent Hoff (Contributor), Camden Joy (Contributor), Cynthia Kaplan (Contributor), Vitaly Komar (Contributor), J. Robert Lennon (Contributor), Jonathan Lethem (Contributor), Paul Malizewski (Contributor), Alex Melamid (Contributor), Magnus Mills (Contributor), Rick Moody (Contributor), Christina Nunez (Contributor), Mark O'Donnell (Contributor), Denise O'Mara (Contributor), Tracy Olssen (Contributor), T.Z. Parsa (Contributor), A.G. Pasquella (Contributor), Morgan Phillips (Contributor), Christopher P. Riley-Zaleniev (Contributor), Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Contributor), Rodney Rothman (Contributor), Edwin Rozic (Contributor), David Shields (Contributor), Chris Sorrentino (Contributor), David Steinhardt (Contributor), Lucy Thomas (Contributor), Thomas Tomorrow (Contributor), Sarah Vowell (Contributor), John Warner (Contributor), E. Weinberger (Contributor), Colleen Werthmann (Contributor), Lawrence Weschler (Contributor)

Series: McSweeney's Quarterly Concern (3)

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W-w-w-w-whaaaaatttt? An issue of McSweeney's that never rises above decent?! Hey, I'm new to ol' Timothy McSwy, I had yet to run into any of the monstrous amount of mediocrity everyone complained about! That is...until...NOW!

It took me about four months just to read this issue. I had put it off many over and over simply because of the mammoth size of it. It's only just under 300 pages, but by god! these early issues have massive pages and tiny print!

Actually, going through and listing the good and the bad and the decent next to one another, the issue wasn't as bad as I felt while reading it. I think I may have just been itching to move on to my next read and was frustrated with the tiny print.

So, to discuss the best of the issue, Paul Collins returns from issue two's delicious article on Thomas Dick and his incredible, failed and forgotten theories regarding life on other planets in the early 19th century with another delight, "Banvard's Folly (or, How Do You Lose a Three-Mile Painting?)," which details another forgotten popular public figure form the past, this time the first artist to become something of a wealthy-as-**** celebrity during his lifetime in the mid-19th century after painting a moving recreation of the Mississippi River and giving adventurous speeches about pirate adventures on the river while audiences would pretend to journey down it. But before too long he'd make a mistake and die a broke foolish cracker.

There are two fascinating interviews in the issue 's well, David Steinhardt discussing string theory with Brian Green, whose name you should know, and a very coo' interview with four assholes involved in some way in arachnology called "'Spider Silk is a Neat Material the World Wants. Can We Make this in goats?'' by Brent Hoff, who seems to piss off just about everyone he interviews except the robot-like CEO of Nexia Biotech, Inc., who always manages to respond kindly and without any hint of emotion. But yeah, learning about those spiders and their silk and how to produce it in goats for wide industry/medical use will really draw you in. Unless you don't care about that sort of thing.

Another favorite of mine was Dave Eggers' humourous and absurdly long "A Note About the Type," which starts off as a typical note about the type and turns into a fantasy story about a fictitious Duke the type was named after and his marital problems. Eggers can't ever do any wrong, you know.

At the end of the issue, or near the end, are three successive stories related to Christmas that were all a joy to read, though not exactly incredible: "Christmas in China (O-E-O-E-O!)" by T.Z. Parsa, "Hark the Herald" by Magnus Mills, and the overly silly "Santa & Son" by Steve Amick, featuring North Pole Elven prostitutes performing fellatio on Santa's son, whose father, you'll remember, is always watching.

HEY JOHN WARNER HAS A STORY IN HERE TOO. HI JOHN WARNER. Is this his first appearance? Was he yet editor for the Internet Tendency? Well, it ain't bad. I enjoyed it. I wish I could remember it.

The last two I'll mention that are pretty good are Mark O'Donnell's entertaining-but-not-without-the-feeling-of-pointlessness musical "A Small Reception" and A.G. Pasquella's "Good Ad for a Telecommunications Company" that has absolutely nothing to do with telecommunications and gets a little...violent with those bloodthirsty tree monkeys.

The rest of the book is either decent of pure blah. I'm a little curious about this story "Tin Chicken" by one Tracy Olssen, which I think is a pseudonym of David Foster Wallace...I know he wrote a story under a female name in one of these early issues, but can no longer find any information on it. If it was him, and it does kind of feel like him (oh, I had forgotten about his short story by dialogue on the spine of the issue, "Another Example of the Porousness of Borders [VI]"), then I can't say it's one of his better efforts, and the pomo structure of it, allowing you to read it in whatever order you want, cutting it into three sections per page, comes off as...kinda stupid. You won't want to take the effort to read it twice in another order. It will feel no different.

The largest chunk of the issue is dedicated to Gary Greenberg's "In the Kingdom of the Unabomber," a fifty-plus page (recall the tiny print! aghh!!!) detailing of Greenberg's correspondence to the villainous Unabomber and attempt to get his name out there abusing the relationship under the Unabomber's nose. Sure, an interesting story, and the actual letter from Kaczynski was a neat touch, but it doesn't stop the fact that my opinion is the article is thirty pages too long. Greenberg's writing is about as exciting as my ALS-ridden mother watching taped episodes of Dr. Phil all day. He occasionally threw in some humour, or at least an attempt at humour, which almost helped it. Greenberg is very self-conscious about how he tried hard to use Kaczynski's name in order to get himself a name in the publishing world, get a book deal on the man, or at least some articles out there, but he doesn't mention how he's still doing it.

Well well well well well, that's about it for what I'm down for mentioning. The left is really worth notice anyway.

F.V.: 65% (or, maybe, after realising it ain't so bad after alls, I may bump it up to a 70! who knows! I need time to let it sink.)

(And awww, Todd Pruzan, who rocked so hard in the past two issues, providing the funniest material, has an irritating 'story' called "Cards" at the back of this issue. I regret to say I simply couldn't follow it.)

[31] ( )
4 vote tootstorm | Jun 18, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eggers, DaveEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amick, SteveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borow, ZevContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradford, ArthurContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Budnitz, JudyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collins, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cox, Ana MarieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cully, Dean F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Joux, JasonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foster, KenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greenberg, GaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greene, BrianInterviewsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hanas, JimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hass, KirstenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemon, A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoff, BrentContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Joy, CamdenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kaplan, CynthiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Komar, VitalyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lennon, J. RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Malizewski, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Melamid, AlexContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mills, MagnusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moody, RickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nunez, ChristinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Donnell, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Mara, DeniseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Olssen, TracyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parsa, T.Z.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pasquella, A.G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, MorganContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Riley-Zaleniev, Christopher P.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosenthal, Amy KrouseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rothman, RodneyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rozic, EdwinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shields, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sorrentino, ChrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Steinhardt, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thomas, LucyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tomorrow, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vowell, SarahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Warner, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weinberger, E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Werthmann, ColleenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weschler, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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