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McSweeney's #39 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #39)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  124 ratings  ·  21 reviews

Each issue of the quarterly is completely redesigned. There have been hardcovers and paperbacks, an issue with two spines, an issue with a magnetic binding, an issue that looked like a bundle of junk mail, and an issue that looked like a sweaty human head. McSweeney’s has won multiple literary awards, including two National Magazine Awards for fiction, and has had numerous

Hardcover, 300 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by McSweeney's
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Patrick McCoy
McSweeney's 39 is handsome hard bound volume with some great inserts of photos of people running in various settings by former MTV VJay Tabitha Soren (and current wife of Michael Lewis). However, the real attraction of this volume is that it contained stories by some of my favorite contemporary writers and more than a few surprises. I sold on the promise of a new Karen Sisco (from Out of Sight) story, "Chick Killer," from Elmore Leonard, fiction from Spokane native Jess Walter, "Anything Helps," ...more
Every year, I attend the Selected Shorts story readings at the Getty. At the end of the program, the audience is asked to fill out comment cards and suggest stories for future readings. This year, I'll be ready with my recommendations from McSweeney's 39.

This is a really good, strong collection. Just about everything was good, but here are my particular favorites:

--Carlos the Impossible, by J.T.K. Belle (made me a little misty-eyed at the end)
--Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover, by Amelia Gray
What is indispensable here: Václav Havel’s essay, “Politics and Conscience.” What is good: Jess Walter’s “Anything Helps.” And what is great fun: Elmore Leonard’s “Chick Killer,” his return of Karen Sisco.

(Karen Sisco!)

But yes, Elmore and Havel, and even Walter, I presume, are to be had in better ways elsewhere. The rest didn’t quite live up to the fun or indispensable. Certainly nothing as indispensable as this, more relevant today than in 1984, Havel echoing Wendell Berry (et. al.) from half a
There is a lot to like in this issue as both the nonfiction and fiction entries are great. From a non-fiction perspective, Jennie Erin Smith's "Benjamin Bucks," is a fascinating read into the life of an expat con-man in Africa. From a fiction perspective I really enjoyed Elmore Leonard's "Chick Killer," it was worth the price of admission on it's own. Add Carlos the Impossible, a story by J. T. K. Belle which made me laugh out loud, and you have some great writing.
There are some quality pieces in this issue of McSweeney's Quarterly. Tom Barbash on the Shah. Roberto Bolaño poem, "The Neochileans." Yannick Murphy - Secret Language. Amelia Gray's "Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover" is absolutely magnificent. Elmore Leonard - Chick Killer is also good. And, finally, J.T.K. Belle's fantastic bull-fighting story, "Carlos the Impossible."

This issue is worth your time and money.
A solid literary issue with some excellent nonfiction, "The Right-hand Man to the Shah of Iran", "Benjamin Bucks" on Ugandan con men, and Vaclav Havel's "Politics and Conscience" in particular. "Bumsters", "They All Stand Up and Sing", "Secret Language", "Giant of the Sea", and "Carlos the Impossible" were standout fiction pieces.
Some strong stuff toward the end, especially "Carlos the Impossible" by J.T.K. Belles. Superb writing.
I've been reading the flagship quarterly from McSweeney's religiously for nine years. Given everything I have missed, it's amazing to me that I haven't missed a single issue in nearly a decade, that I continue to pack and unpack them for the purpose of accompanying me in a string of apartments. Issue 39 is a reminder of why I attach such fetishistic value to these books.

This issue is divided fairly evenly between fiction and non-fiction, the non-fiction representing a smattering of speeches, ess
Elijah Spector
This was the first McSweeney's I've read, and while the nonfiction was uniformly great, the fiction was, well, up and down. The Elmore Leonard story was, of course, awesome, and "Anything Helps" and the last two stories were also great. From there things went a little downhill to some stuff that I liked while I was reading it but had issues with as soon as I'd start to think about it, and one piece that I absolutely hated. (I may decide to write about that last one mentioned at lenght someday.)

this issue of mcsweeneys is more notable for its non-fiction than fiction, in particular for the timely inclusion of a long essay from vaclav havel so close to the great man's passing. that and the piece about reptile smugglers and con men in uganda were the most compelling. among the fiction, 'louella tarantula' (about a son losing his mother to cancer, though also about a spider) had personal resonance but probably 'secret language' and 'giant of the sea' were probably favorites.
I enjoyed the Havel essay and the nonfiction work by Tom Babash, but the real gems for me were the short stories at the end of the book. I sobbed a bit during "Anything Helps" by Jess Walter, smiled a whole lot through "Louella Tarantula" by Benjamin Weissman, and rooted for the bull (and was ultimately satisfied) in J. T. K. Belle's "Carlos The Impossible." Another great issue, McSweeny's...I'll be renewing my subscription!
Benjamin Bucks by Jennie Erin Smith, The Shah's Man (Tom Barbash, non-fiction about the last Shah's page) and Vaclac Havel's address stood out for me.

This time there are two mini foto album inserts with nice images to spice things up.
Another solid issue of McSweeney's. I really enjoyed "Benjamin Bucks", "Bumsters", "Secret Language", and "Louella Tarantula". Really the only two I didn't really care for were "The Neochileans" and "Politics and Conscience".
Nice solid issue of McSweeney's, I liked the transition for nonfiction/reportage to fiction as the issue progressed. And, even better, this is the second straight issue of the quarterly without problems with the binding.
It's always great to read a Havel piece. I also loved Benjamin Weissman’s Louella Tarantula so much. It's the type of language that sounds best read aloud.
Rand Renfrow
McSweeney's never ceases to amaze me, they never make a mistake, every collection is fantastic. Even still, this one is one of the better ones.
i don't know why, but it wasn't my favorite issues...some issues just grab me and i pore over them while some feel like more of a struggle.
This is great. MSweeney's compiles the greatest short stories AND thoughtprovoking essays. Must read for any literary enthusiasts.
these books are always a good read...thanks Luke.
Arturo Bandini
Forgot everything except Bolano and Abi Maxwell.
Anything Helps
Secret Language
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Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly ...more
More about Dave Eggers...

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