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McSweeney's #36

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  21 reviews

McSweeney’s began in 1998 as a literary journal, edited by Dave Eggers, that published only works rejected by other magazines. Since then, McSweeney’s has attracted works from some of the finest writers in the country, including Denis Johnson, William T. Vollmann, Rick Moody, Joyce Carol Oates, Heidi Julavits, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Ben Marcus, Susan Straight, Roddy Doyle, T. C. Boyle

Box, 636 pages
Published January 10th 2011 by McSweeney's (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  180 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Sam Quixote
Jul 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Wow where to start? I've been looking forward to this issue since I found out that McSweeney's 36 was going to be a human head! Well it is - kind of. It's a box with a wraparound picture of a middle aged balding dude who's sweating. But pop open his head and - voila! A collection of books, booklets, postcards, and a scroll of fortunes without the cookies! The issue knocks you out it's so well produced.

As I explored through the head though and marvelled at the high production values that must ha
Shawn Towner
Dec 23, 2010 rated it liked it
McSweeney's 36th issue, like issues 19 and 17, is a collection of stuff issue. Unlike the disappointing issues 17 (junk mail that doesn't fit on a book shelf properly) and 19 (cigar box that fits okay on a book shelf), issue 36 is an interesting collection of stuff. The stuff comes in a box shaped like a sweaty head. Well, maybe not shaped like a sweaty head. It's actually shaped like a box, but the box has drawings that make it look like a sweaty head. Inside the head box is is collection of st ...more
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Who doesn't wanna sift through a cubic severed head filled with all the major prose forms: nonfiction, novel, novella, comic, story collection, short-short, play, and screenplay, plus a scroll of fortune cookie fortunes ("you will say 'moider' instead of 'murder' on your death bed to lghiten the mood" AND "you pregnant.")? Half of what's here is stellar: Tim Heidecker (of Tim and Eric) co-writes an inspired piece- of-shit-script purportedly meant to star Mike Meyers, Dana Carvey, LL Cool J, and ...more
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I usually kinda like the "collection of random stuff" issues of McSwy's, and this one came in a creepy looking cardboard box-cum-head that looks super unsettling on top of my bookcase, so there's one star at least. The Michael Chabon booklet is pretty much the big draw here if you're a Michael Chabon guy, which I mostly am. He digs around in an abandoned novel of his and adds some footnotes (we know how I love footnotes) and so forth, which now that I type it out sounds really boring, but you'll ...more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
My wife finds the face on the front of this issue so disturbing that I had to face it backwards on the shelf for years. Now we've moved and the shelf is no longer in our bedroom and so McSweeney's #36 spends his time looking out into my disheveled office. This issue is a mixed bag, or box, or head. The Michael Chabon "ruined" novel chapters booklet is fantastic. I also really enjoyed Jack Pendarvis' Jungle Geronimo in Gay Paree. But then there are the plays, one for the screen and one for the stage. " ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This issue comes inside a head that opens up. That's right, a head. If I could give it 100 stars just for that, I would. Great writing as always but really McSweeney's outdid themselves with the binding this time! Also includes a cut-as-you-go roll of fortunes, a catfish painting serialized on a set of 4 postcards, various miniature books, pamphlets, and zine-like booklets. Ooh, also a ridiculous screenplay playfully enclosed in a mini manila envelope with a fake hand-written note on the front. ...more
Sara Habein
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Major highlights for me were Michael Chabon and Adam Levin's contributions, as well as the play from Wajahat Ali. Colm Tóibín's short story "The Street" was absolutely fantastic, and the fortune cookie scroll was amusing. However, I hated Jungle Geronimo and Bicycle Built For Two wasn't much better. An imperfect, but still good collection in a great package.

My full and more detailed review can be found on Glorified Love Letters.
Jim Taone
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection. "A Bicycle Built for Two" is hilarious. Wajahat Ali's play is brilliant. I immediately turned back and re-read Colm Toibin's story after I finished. Honestly, though the best piece has to be Chabon's "Fountain City" to be able to get a glimpse of an author's "wrecked novel" and have it annotated by him, nonetheless. Well, that's worth the price of this thing. All this packaged in a sweaty dude's head. Awesome.
P.S. If you read "The Instructions" preview and don't imme
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: collection
A lot of good stuff -- a nice story from Colm Toibin, a great brief excerpt selected by Paul Collins, an interesting play by Wajahat Ali, and a creepy box, among other things -- but the five stars are for the Michael Chabon booklet.
It's the first four chapters of Fountain City, the novel he couldn't finish and then abandoned to write Wonder Boys, about a writer who can't finish a novel. The chapters are extensively annotated with detailed, insightful, funny, and fascinating comments from C
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Sometimes formatting takes away from substance, but that statement doesn't apply to the favorites in this edition of McSweeney's. The most special for me was Chabon's novel in progress... who doesn't want to get into the head of such genius?! I'm a sucker, I guess! I love that McSweeney's is embracing art. For a quarterly that has featured graphic novels and comics, may as well take the next step...
Brian SIdlo
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: michael-chabon
I've only read the excerpt from Fountain City, the novel Michael Chabon worked on for five years, before abandoning it to write Wonder Boys.

Alongside the four chapters from the novel Chabon provides self-deprecating commentary and analaysis of the novel's flaws, and reflects on other aspects of his life and the writing process.

Best suited to Chabon fans, students of the writing process may also find it of interest.
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
McSweeney's is a unique magazine, like a happy ode to creativity.
The head on the box didn't really appeal to me, but I like the concept. It is filled with booklets of which I especially liked Chabon's Fountain City. There is plenty of room to put in some of your own memories or stories, but I haven't done that yet.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, plays
Meh. The highlight was the fortune cookie scroll and the format. Michael Chabon's annotations of his unfinished novel were pretty annoying at first, but they grew on me. I was hoping a little more substance from the play.
Aug 26, 2014 marked it as to-read
i lost my head
Anton Roe
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
An awesome box of treats!
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: quarterlies
Chabon's annotations of his "wrecked" novel are interesting, but overall didn't love the content of this one.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I only read "Bicycle Built For Two" by Gregg Turkington. That man's a freakin' genius, and this was hysterical!
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not too impressed with this issue of McSweeney's, despite that it's literature in a sweaty head.
Debbie Spodnick podolsky
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Issue 36 is a curious hodgepodge of writing and amusing tidbits crammed into a creep looking cube. Though it's one of the smallest elements, I especially favor the roll of fortune cookie fortunes.
Josh Hornbeck
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
McSweeney's 36: Another fantastic collection of fiction includes four chapters of Michael Chabon's unreleased "Fountain City." (5/5)
Ferruccio Cinquemani
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Jun 08, 2011
Michiel Offerman
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Nov 05, 2015
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Aug 17, 2011
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Apr 27, 2012
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Jan 21, 2012
W. Brandon
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Jul 22, 2012
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Mar 31, 2016
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Jan 23, 2014
Heather Pratt
rated it it was ok
Dec 09, 2012
Rebecca Jackson
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Feb 24, 2013
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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