MJ Nicholls's Reviews > McSweeney's #17

McSweeney's #17 by Dave Eggers
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Mar 30, 11

bookshelves: short-stories, journals, art-or-illustrated
Read from March 26 to 30, 2011

This issue is an exercise in world-class parody, with top marks for invention and attention-to-detail. Arriving in a clump of documents belonging to one Sgt Maria Vasquez, the issue spoofs the spam mail letter in the form of a ‘spam manuscript’ (a novel excerpt printed on double-sided A4) and a series of automobile and trout photographs.

The stories themselves are entirely incidental, included in a spoof literary quarterly called Unfamiliar. It is what McSweeney’s might have become without the vision and money of Dave Eggers. The stories are presented in a split-page format, and are largely short and unfocused. They are also noticeably weaker than the other McSweeney’s works, which feels like a conscious effort to lampoon the editorial standards of their sham magazine, although I might be wrong. (They cop out on the credits page by listing ‘McSweeney’s contributors.’ Boo!)

The centrepiece of this issue is a painstakingly compiled scientific magazine, Yeti Researcher. A full-length ur-spoof, this tedious and fascinating document explores the bigfoot myth, squeezing every last drop of plausibility from its long discursive essays. The end result is laudable for going full-out and making the whole endeavour entirely convincing. There is no way of knowing this would be a parody to outsiders.

Other items include a padded envelope of gorgeous modern art and a thigh-slapping advert for a garments company specialising in stick-together clothes with shared armholes and hoods. Top marks. (Minus one for the actual featured writing).
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Reading Progress

03/27/2011 "Wading through 100 pages of an academic quarterly on Yetis. Something is going wrong in my life."

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