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McSweeney's #32 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #32)

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Because it seemed important to know in advance, we've dedicated Issue 32 to an investigation of the world to come--expect a set of near-future stories, written by the likes of Anthony Doerr, Heidi Julavits, and Salvador Plascencia, each of 'em unearthing a different corner of life in the year 2024. This will be, we are sure, way more entertaining than waiting fifteen years ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by McSweeney's (first published June 1st 2009)
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Anna
This is book that I most definitely judged by its cover. I picked it up in the library as it has a very pleasing cover design. The decision to read it was based on the blurb - a series of short stories composed in 2009 by a variety of US authors. Their subject matter, life in some specific place in 2024. I enjoy extrapolations of the future and, indeed, this book contained some interesting ideas. Inevitably, though, the stories were a mixed bag. As often seems to be the case with short story ant ...more
Matt
I really enjoyed this issue. Themed, regular locations, setting 2024--what's going on? Some creative choices.

Easily the best story was the opener, Anthony Doerr's "Memory Wall." This is followed by a close second (which happens to be second), Wells Tower's "Raw Water." A very strong leadoff, and now I am interested in both of these authors, to read more of their work.

Other good stories are "The Black Square" and "Oblast." I want to read more Jim Shepard, and I liked "The Netherlands Lives With W
...more
Sam Quixote
McSweeney's doesn't usually feel like a chore but this issue did. The subtitle is "2024AD" where the 10 writers have to write stories set in that year. Most of them choose to write the usual gloomy drivel. Global warming came true! We live in a post-apolcalyptic wasteland where everything is grey and nobody is happy! Of course global warming is real but couldn't any of these guys think of doing anything original with the material? Thankfully a couple of writers chose to put together decent stori ...more
Corey Vilhauer
Excerpt from What I've Been Reading - McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Issue 32:

"Aside of a fantastic story by Anthony Doerr (“Memory Wall,” about a device that reaches in and saves memories for those slowly suffering from dementia), and Chris Adrian’s “The Black Square” (which delves into a cool hyper-local science fiction about a cultish black hole with a story no one understands), the general tone of the collection is simply a little too pessimistic.

No one had a happy outlook for the future – n
...more
Ronald
A truly outstanding collection of imaginative sci-fi stories strongly rooted in character and present fears about our near future. All of the stories in this themed edition of McSweeney's attempt to answer the question "what will the world look like in 2024?" While some behave reasonably within the parameters of this question (Chris Bachelder's "Eighth Wonder") others blast out to skim the murky edge of fantasy fiction (Sesshu Foster's dirigible-based "Sky City") There was only one story here wh ...more
Laura
Here's a McSweeney's that's right up my alley. Set in the fairly near future of 2024, all of the stories sought to predict or warn of a quickly approaching future. Pretty much all of them were dark in tone or setting, and all were extremely enjoyable.

What was most interesting to me was that almost all of the stories told of a future radically affected by climate change. No fascist dystopias or aliens here -- just an earth made mad by global warming and human mistakes.

My favorites were "The Blac
...more
Andrew
The high point for me was "The Black Square" by Chris Adrian, it's refreshing to read about realistic gay relationships for once. I'm going to pick up some other books by him soon.

The low, even though it has a great title, was "Material Proof of the Failure of Everything" by Heidi Julavits. I found it so confusing and uninteresting it almost ruined the rest of the book for me.

I also should mention "Raw Water" by Wells Tower as a high point, but the rest of the stories are kinda mediocre. Physica
...more
Frank Dahai
One of the worst McSweeney's I have read so far, but containing one of the best stories - Anthony Doerr's 'Memory Wall'. Well's Tower, Chris Bachelor, Chris Adrian and Sheila Heti put in some good work. The rest, sadly, is barely readable and highly amateurish. Too much of it relies on the old trick of using lots of systemic words and concepts to sound 'future'-like. Heidi Julavits''Material Proof of the Failure of Everything' in particular is an out-dated, pretentious cliche of a Hungarian spy ...more
Koen Crolla
Well, this was certainly everything I could have expected of a Dave Eggers brain-child: pretentious drivel by worthless hipsters with more confidence than skill.
Special mentions go to J. Erin Sweeney, who writes at a fourth-grade level, and Jim Shepard, whose knowledge of Dutch culture is such that he thinks Henk and Kees are perfectly reasonable names for characters and who is under the impression picking names more or less at random from a street map of Rotterdam with complete disregard for se
...more
Sasha
Meh. I really liked 3 out of the 10 stories. And reaaaally hated one of them. So I guess that balances out.
Nate D
10 glimpses of the near-future from personal favorites like Jim Shepard and Chris Adrian. I'm only partway through the opening near-novela, Anthony Doerr's "Memory Wall" and already this is shaping up to be excellent.

...

Yep, it was quite good. As usual, Shepard came out with the real fireworks, and in a story that hits his usual points -- families, man against the uncaring elements -- in a scarily believable way. A few were sort of a weird mess, a few were perfect, all-in-all decent.
Perez Malone
Most of these stories were good but I skipped a few. I loved the Wells Tower story and the Salvador Plascencia one. I didn't finish the last the story though as it just never grabbed me. An all around good issue of McSweeney's. I also really liked Chris Bachelder's "Eight Wonder", about people living in a flooded dome.

I also really enjoyed the dystopian police state tale ("Material Proof of the Failure of Everything") by Heidi Julavits.
Laissez Farrell
This collection of speculative fiction (all set in the year 2024) is comprised of very under-appreciated writers (of them, I believe Jim Shepard is the most well-known), and the best stories give a fascinating idea of what humanity can look forward to in the next fifteen years. There are a couple of stories that don't do much with the conceit, but these are the stories which tend to hit harder emotionally. All in all, well worth the time.
Marc Lane
Asked to write about dystopic futures, these authors produced some of the most bleak and thought-provoking short stories I have read in a long time. The opening story, Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr, deserves to be singled out for special mention, particularly for anyone with an affinity for South Africa, while others like Eighth Wonder and The Netherlands Lives with Water are most worrisome for their grains of truth.
Tim
Most of these stories were good but I skipped a few. I loved the Wells Tower story and the Salvador Plascencia one. I didn't finish the last the story though as it just never grabbed me. An all around good issue of McSweeney's. I also really liked Chris Bachelder's "Eight Wonder", about people living in a flooded dome.

I also really enjoyed the dystopian police state tale ("Material Proof of the Failure of Everything") by Heidi Julavits.
Matt
A cool concept -- all the stories are set in 2024. I didn't love every piece, but I quite liked the stories by Chris Adrian (especially) and J. Erin Sweeney...and I really, really enjoyed the long, first story, "Memory Wall" by Anthony Doerr. I think I'm going to have to add novels by Adrian and Doerr to my endless to-read list...
Oh, and shock of all shocks: the book is beautiful. Just like all McSweeney's issues....
Clark
Great concept for this issue: Stories From the Near Future of 2014. Especially great were Chris Adrian's "The Black Square", Sheila Heti's "There Is No Time In Waterloo" and Jim Shephard's "The Netherlands Lives With Water". I am vaguely concerned that so many of these stories feature a world beset with major water problems related to global warming.
brain
So the concept of this issue is what fiction will sound like in the nearish future, like maybe ten years hence or something, I already forgot and the book's in the other room.
I guess in general they expect future-fiction to be more or less compelling but kind of arduous for a guy like me to read.
Maybe it was just me, though.
Sarah


This was my first McSweeney's book and it left me in a state of sadness and dismay. My first complaint is the writers in this volume don't have high hope for the future which left me weary on what it might actually have in store for us and second most of the stories were tedious and confusing.
Loni
This is one of my favorite McSweeney's issues yet. Everything is set in the future ... but only 15 years in the future, so nothing is too out there and sci-fi. The opening novella "Memory Wall" is amazing amazing amazing, and there are many other good reads in here too.
Matt
My favorites are "Memory Wall," (duh), "Raw Water" and "The Black Square." "The Netherlands Lives with Water" and "Eighth Wonder" are pretty good, too. The rest were average-to-weak. I'd give it 3 stars but my favorite three stories were too damn good.
Dale
This issue: What might happen fifteen years hence? Some really fantastic stories in here that automatically make this a five-starrer, a couple I didn't care for, but nonetheless are useful and valuable to the World in their own way....
Hans Gerwitz
This is a tough one to rate. "Memory Wall" (Anthony Doerr) is excellent, several of the other stories are good or great, but quite a few are unworthy.

The good ones, though, are good enough that this issue should not be missed.
Corinne
This is by far my favorite edition of the Quarterly yet. "Memory Wall" and "The Black Square" are exceptional stories. I'm still making my way through, but I highly suggest folks pick up this edition.
Levi
Mostly a great collection of stories based in variously dark versions of the year 2024, although the final piece bogged me down a bit and I couldn't quite finish it.
Ryan
Wells Tower's stories were very interesting. Some of the others had good parts, but overall not as good. It worked well for a slow work week getaway.
Bronwyn Johnston
This is a volume of short story's by different authors. I'm only reading the first story now, but it is so interesting and well planned. More later/
Kate Cares
The first story, Memory Wall, is one of the best short stories I've ever read...worth reading just that.
Gem
can someone with librarian status please update this book to reflect that it has 258 pages?
Kori
So far all I've read is Wells Tower's "Raw Water" but I'm liking where this issue is going.
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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
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