The Better of McSweeney's, Vol. 1
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The Better of McSweeney's, Vol. 1 (The Best of McSweeney's #1)

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  401 ratings  ·  33 reviews
This book collects some of the best stories from the first ten issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, the literary journal that has become one of the country's most important and influential publications. McSweeney's began as a small collection of work rejected by other magazines, but it soon began to publish pieces primarily written for the journal, and to attract some...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by McSweeney's (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Mo
Oh, you are all so very clever. So, so clever. This reminds me of many moments I had in college that drove me to drink Southern Comfort until I passed out. But yeah, I liked it anyway.
Mike McQuillian
McSweeney's began my interest in literary journals about five years ago. Even though I'd never read an issue, the fact that Dave Eggers' name was attached caught my attention.

And now, five years later, I still hadn't read an issue. Not for lack of interest, but because, as I've mentioned before, literary journals have a tendency to be expensive.

That's what makes The Better of McSweeney's great and horrible. I get to read some great stories from the first ten issues of McSweeney's, which is aweso...more
Raül De Tena
Hay publicaciones que, de una forma u otra, toman el pulso a una generación artística. Y por mucho que en España sigamos haciéndonos los sordos ante el fenómeno de las revistas literarias (de calidad y lejos del snobismo), en Estados Unidos se vive desde hace tiempo un auge de este tipo de ediciones. Eso no significa que el mercado literario norteamericano sea paradisíaco: el propio Dave Eggers reconoce en el prólogo de esta antología que creó la revista McSweeney's Quarterly Concern como una he...more
Corey Vilhauer
Excerpt from What I've Been Reading - January 2008:

"There was a lot to like in the McSweeney’s books, especially The Better of McSweeney’s. Kevin Brockmeier gives us a short story about a giant ceiling that descends upon the earth. Glen David Gould writes about a murdering circus elephant. Judy Budnitz muses upon a mother who is afraid of going to the doctor and her two daughters who end up taking her there – and ultimately covering for her. And A. M. Homes shows us that some people are really a...more
Rob Blixt
McSweeney’s is adored (almost to the point of obsession) by the wannabe up-and-coming writer for its wonderful sense of performance and play. There is, I think, a sense among young readers/writers that McSweeney’s is the place for deviation and rejection of the norm when it comes to the literary world. While this might have been the case in the first few issues of the journal, and while McSweeney’s still pulls out all the stops when it comes to physically designing its issues, the writing within...more
Stacy
A falling sky. A prehistoric shark. Reflections on the morgue. There’s a lot of death in here, a lot that is treated with a strange calm. And that’s just the tip. Overall, I think are few weak links in this collection. Some unenjoyable plots, but few unenjoyable reads. McSweeney’s places very little stock in predictability, I am learning. Although I rarely shell out the money to buy regular issues of the journal, I appreciate the same offbeat, earnest love of the literary arts I find in all the...more
Lynne Wright
Everything from McSweeney's is modern but not cold, clever but not pretentious, craftily executed, and ecclectic. (Just like me). Short stories you can eat like exotic little word bonbons.
Jason
Oct 11, 2007 Jason added it
"...I was instructed to come up with a slogan for the Burau's face-saving campaign. "The message here is that no one's perfect," said the Creative Director. "We"ve got to tell them that on every life a little rain must fall." I worked at it all day, trying to come up with something philosophical and optimistic. All I could think of were smashed cars, shattered roofs, the tiny carcasses of swallows frozen to the ground. When the Creative Director came around for my input, I shook my head.

"What ha...more
Ross
The best stories from the first 10 issues (all very rare) of McSweeney's.

Besides the fact that there's a hilarious visual metaphor on the cover (If you don't get it, think: What does a liver do?) and the fact that there's a story on the SPINE (!), this is probably the single best collection of short fiction I've ever read. I have given this book as a gift to several people, and if you like short stories you should find a copy immediately.

My personal favorite from this collection was William T. V...more
Erik
May 11, 2008 Erik rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks who love odd fiction and don't expect every damn book to be rated G.
If you can't afford a McSweeneys Quarterly Concern subscription or you just want to get a taste of what it's like before subscribing, you can't go wrong with this book. It truly is the better of the stories that I've read from the quarterly. You'll laugh your ass off, you'll come close to crying, and hopefully, if all goes well, you'll be desperate to subscribe to the quarterly by the time you finish this book. It's mind blowing.
Meredith
May 15, 2007 Meredith rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who love short stories like I do.
I had never read any McSweeney's while it was being published but I'm enjoying this collection. Unlike other collections, there are a variety of different types of writings: short fiction, really short fiction, narratives and random letters. Some of the stuff is kind of obscure but overall, I highly recommend this.
Mike
The book suffers from the same problem as many musical best-of collections in that it seems to lack soul or continuity.

Also, several of the stories contained within are non-fiction but context is never given, and because McSweeney's embraces authors with experimental styles, this doesn't become clear right away.
Vanessa
This freebie and intro to McSweeney's Quarterly Concern is a collection of the 'finer moments' of the first 10 volumes. i particularly liked the one about the elephant. the other about the hitler birthday party and the letters written to CEO's from the perspective of a dog named steven.
Jordan
I really enjoyed reading a lot of the short stories in this volume. I think my favorite was the story about Marfa, TX. It renewed my interest in going there soon for a visit. Its also really nice to read this collection since it offers such a variety of styles and subjects.
Rachel
This is a collection of, like, real stories. It makes me feel like a hipster-y adult intellectual writer the way all things McSweeney's do. One of the stories was legit scary, and many were creepy. All were very well-written and memorable. Totes worth a read.
Laura
A random jumble of stories with no unifying theme, overall message, and a complete disregard for grammatical correctness. Some days, I might enjoy tihs type of stuff for it's novelty/oddness, but I guess I just picked it up at the wrong time. Two stars.
Heather
There are some great stories in this book, along with a few I didn't care for so much. My favorite was probably the Zadie Smith, but there's plenty of good stuff in here to take up a nice summer afternoon.
angrykitty
even though i'm sometimes bored with some of the stories in the mcsweeneys books, this collection of the best of, really is just that, the best without some of the less engaging stories.
Lewis colburn
A good grab bag of short fiction is great from time to time, and this is a pretty good collection- some real wonders, some so-so, but there's something for most everyone here.
Natalie
short stories are my favorite things to read. I also like how the McSweeneys come in the mail and are different everytime. It's ten times better than a magazine subscription.
James
Lot of gems in here. Love the letters written by golden retriever to CEO's. Also Kevin Brockmeier's The Ceiling is one of my favorite short stories ever written.
Kevin
Meh. There were a couple of good ones, and the letters were funny, but there are way too many good collections out there to settle for this mediocre one.
Charlie
This book has lead me to some really great writers, obviously itis not all amazing, but as short story anthologies go this is the best I have read.
e. d'alessandro
huge fan of mcsweeney's quarterly concern, but i wasn't blown away by this collection. the stories from more recent issues are more impressive.
Bijan
May 03, 2007 Bijan added it
Even the spine of the book has a memorable story.
Though I still can't figure out exactly what is depicted on the front cover of the book.
Daniel McCash
Zadie Smith's short story tied me on to her fanclub. I liked David Foster Wallace's pages in this issue the most.
Spencer
excellent short stories. mcsweenys is a bit to hip for some tastes but its got some very creative stuff
Noel VerDine
It was nice to get a few of the stories from issues I haven't been able to afford from the sellers on Amazon.
Kennedy Holmes
This is the best contemporary short story anthology I've read. Ever. McSweeney's is amazing.
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Dave Eggers is the author of seven previous books, including his most recent, The Circle, a captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism that soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco th...more
More about Dave Eggers...
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius What is the What Zeitoun The Circle You Shall Know Our Velocity!

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