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McSweeney's #21 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #21)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  370 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews

With work by Roddy Doyle, Stephen Elliott, Peter Orner, Joyce Carol Oates, Yannick Murphy, and Miranda July, as well as the triumphant return of Arthur Bradford and stories concerning fistfighting Mormons, New Zealand police
malfeasance, and a man named Trang, and with all of those works interspersed with heartfelt letters to Ray Charles and storyboards by some of the fines

Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 9th 2006 by McSweeney's
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 12, 2007 Julia rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Offbeat twentysomethings with a weird sense of humor
Shelves: funnybunnies
These stories have a fluffy macabre sensibility. Let's just say: sadistic sex, snakebits, and Samuel Clemens, all in one book. It's fun but I can't really make out the overall tone of the work as a whole, since I get the feeling the authors feel a sense of importance to their tales, but I can't make it out through their rush to witticism.

Best story: Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish 1906

Best thing about the whole thing: Bizzarre letters to Ray Charles.

How I read it: The 4/5/6 train between Bleeker
Patrick McCoy
Sep 28, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
As usual the literary journal started by Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s, has introduced me to some new and original writers. This issue also has great pen and ink storyboards for every story and some really weird letters to Ray Charles in between the stories. Anyway, Issue 21 starts out with a compelling journalistic piece, “The Tall Man”, about a case of police brutality, at the hands of a white man, that lead to death of an aboriginal man on the aboriginal island community of Palm Island in ...more
Steven Tomcavage
Oct 03, 2013 Steven Tomcavage rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Holly Tavel's "The Last Words" is worth the price of admission for this collection. It is a brilliant story. The rest range from meh to pretty good. The Joyce Carol Oates story, "Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish 1906", was too deflating to an idol of American literature for me to really enjoy. There's something to be said for keeping author's private lives separate from their public personas. "The Pram" is a good old-fashioned spooky campfire story that gave me goosebumps. But "The Last Words" is ...more
Sam Quixote
Sep 19, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it it was ok
I only read half of the stories in this book and couldn't bear to carry on. Because, my, this is a bloody depressing book! I like McSweeney's, I think it's got a lot going for it but bloody hell, this volume, let's have a little humour! Maybe because it's Sunday night but I'd like something that's not so bloody serious and sober minded!

The first story is by Chloe Hooper called "The Tall Man" and is about the doomed and miserable lives of Aborigines on a remote Aussie island. They're all alcohol
Sam Quixote
I only read half of the stories in this book and couldn't bear to carry on. Because, my, this is a bloody depressing book! I like McSweeney's, I think it's got a lot going for it but bloody hell, this volume, let's have a little humour! Maybe because it's Sunday night but I'd like something that's not so bloody serious and sober minded!

The first story is by Chloe Hooper called "The Tall Man" and is about the doomed and miserable lives of Aborigines on a remote Aussie island. They're all alcohol
Sep 23, 2011 Arjen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-dutch
Thank you Internet, thank you Goodreads, thank you Jean, thank you McSweeneys.

I never heard of McSweeneys until I saw it pop up in the timeline of one of my goodreads friends. It looked very interesting so I ordered a few back issues. One of these issues was #21 and I was immediately blown away by the whole concept and especially the unique design of each issue. Without the Goodreads (or the Internet) allowing me to connect to friends thought gone, I would have never encountered this series.

I im
Dec 07, 2008 Adam rated it really liked it
McSweeney's Issue 21 brings a collection of 14 stories, and several letters to Ray Charles from fans. (And these are mostly entertaining, for various reasons. Some sweet, some creepy, some just autograph seekers.)

This foundation of tales shows plenty of variation in style and subject, which is enough to make the collection compelling for most readers. Although several of the fictional characters are, well, somewhat irritating, they are no worse than all of us imperfect beings-- such as my early-
Jody Grant
Feb 03, 2008 Jody Grant rated it liked it
I always love McSweeney’s. 21 features really enjoyable block art accompanying each piece that was just as delightful as the stories. I like that you can play around with these journals beyond the written word. I love such creativity in publishing and I only with there was more of it. From this collection, “The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan” by Rajesh Parameswaran was a great find. I loved this story. It’s beautifully crafted and really stayed with me. I think this is the kind of piece ...more
Nate D
Dec 21, 2008 Nate D rated it liked it
Pretty middle-of-the-road McSweeney's. Which is to say solid. The design wasn't especially unusual but the drawings and letters to Ray Charles (yep, actual letters mailed to Ray Charles) that accompanied each story were a nice touch. The opening journalism concerning Australia's rocky relationship with its aboriginal inhabitants was a standout just for being chilling and in many ways universally relevant, and the "Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan" was just good storytelling. None of the ...more
MJ Nicholls
Nov 09, 2010 MJ Nicholls rated it liked it
Hits: Rajesh Parameswaran, Miranda July, Arthur Bradford, Greg Ames, Joyce Carol Oates.

Misses: Stephen Elliott, Yannick Murphy, Holly Tavel, Kevin Moffett, Christian Winn.

The rest were somewhere in between. Rajesh Parameswaran's "The Strange Career of Doctor Raju Gopalarajan" was a strange wonder and wins my improptu BEST STORY IN #21 award.
Aug 21, 2010 Yuliya rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
mysterious and great. loved everything - starting from the cover and to letters to Ray Charles after each story. though it is difficult to write after some time anything specific. good short stories like a flash - take you all in fast and then change as fast from one to another. you simply don't get bored.
Rachel Stern
Jul 08, 2007 Rachel Stern rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: jsut about everyone
Shelves: justread
this was my first mcsweeney's quarterly. All of the stories are very, very engaging. I didn't even know I liked short stories that much. The Balloon and the las story, (the one by Joyce Carol Oates) were both particularly ineresting.
Sep 03, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
Some of the stories in this anthology were completely unrelatable but I did thoroughly enjoy a few of them. I especially loved the one about the birds of paradise--it was written in a beautiful style reminiscent of modern magical realism that I could easily devour another hundred pages of.
Jun 30, 2013 Goh rated it really liked it
it was very very cool and interesting but my lack of literary skills prevented me from fully understanding and absorbing the meaning of the story :( but even so, it was a lovely read which i enjoyed immensely :)
Feb 07, 2012 Tyler rated it liked it
As far as McSweeney's goes, this is a pretty so-so issue. The big winners in this one are Rajesh Parameswaran, Greg Ames, and Joyce Carol Oates- Their three stories are fantastic, some of the best I've read in Mcsweeney's. The rest- some good, some meh.
Zack Quaintance
Oct 25, 2012 Zack Quaintance rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the Joyce Carol Oates story at the end of this one, "Grandpa Clemens and Angelfish 1906."
Jan 20, 2008 Callie added it
I'm giving up. It's been on my bedside table for months and I have zero desire to pick it up. I barely got through the first 2 stories... I guess I'm not a McSweeney's gal after all.
May 17, 2008 Eugenie rated it liked it
Nice collection, some of course stronger than others. Greg Ames's "I Feel Free" and Miranda July's "Majesty" are stand-outs.
May 07, 2008 Jenni added it
Shelves: fiction
Normally I don't add lit journals, but this one has a great story in it called "I Feel Free," by Greg Ames. Very twisted, funny, entertaining story. Cracked me up several times.
Nov 27, 2007 Sara rated it it was amazing
My friend Greg's story "I Feel Free" is in this issue. Read it now. He's brilliant.

Or go to his website -
Sep 09, 2007 Matt rated it liked it
Shelves: collection
I always enjoy reading McSweeney's, but this wasn't my favorite issue. The stories were mostly interesting, some definitely good, but I didn't think any in this issue were really great.
Lauren rated it it was ok
Sep 14, 2007
Anne Holman
Anne Holman rated it liked it
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Sep 03, 2013
Eric rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2009
Sarah Newhouse
Sarah Newhouse rated it liked it
Aug 20, 2008
Colleen Beckett
Colleen Beckett rated it liked it
Apr 17, 2007
Monty rated it liked it
Jan 04, 2011
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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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