Nate D's Reviews > McSweeney's #30

McSweeney's #30 by Dave Eggers
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's review
Feb 05, 09

bookshelves: mcsweeneys, stories, read-in-2009
Read in February, 2009

Arrived today, in all its throwback, Iceland-printed, McSweeney's no.3 charm.

Bill Cotter's opening "Pfaff 2" was pretty bleak start for a collection emblazoned with a giant REJOICE across the cover, so I guess I'm glad to see that the golden glow just cresting our political horizon hasn't gone to everyone's head and made us all unerringly optimistic in our fiction-writing just yet. And bleak is okay; it wouldn't make a lot of sense to write an extremely hopeful story that mostly takes place in an asylum. And Cotter's prose does have a fairly light touch for the subject, that makes the couple really horrific offhand images all the more affecting.


And upon finishing: basically all worthwhile, nothing so blindingly standout as to require discussion in depth. I will say that after the opener, it's really the second half where things pick up with several less idiosyncratic but all the more bitterly real pieces, the best best of which is "Cuts", a matter-of-fact snapshot of a homeless shelter foundering under diminishing budget. It doesn't need to be especially dramatic, or really have any action at all, to work, J. Malcolm Garcia seems to realize, as he doesn't embellish with either. Simply feeling out the situation does everything the story needs to.

The second half does have a brief interlude of absurdity, but Romanian playwright Matei Visniec's "Madness" reads like a dream, or surrealist poetry, and ends up being the best of the stranger work presented here.

I suppose it's worth noting that though Michael Cera's "Pinecone" was more amusing than essential, oh hey, Michael Cera is writing his own fiction now.

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