kottke.org posts about McSweeneys
Timothy McSweeney, after whom the McSweeney’s literary magazine and web site are named, died late last month.
As a young man, Timothy was an artist of tremendous talent. The canvases he leaves behind are filled with haunting and beautiful imagery. They are also filled with a palpable desire-to be heard, to connect, to be understood better by others and himself. The letters that inspired this journal’s name were a continuation of that same lifelong effort to more intimately know the world and his place within it.
Dave Eggers tells the story of the real Timothy McSweeney and why he named the magazine after him.
The NY Times has more information on the one-off newspaper that McSweeney’s is putting together.
Called San Francisco Panorama, the editors say it is, in large part, homage to an institution that they feel, contrary to conventional wisdom, still has a lot of life in it. Their experience in publishing literary fiction is something of a model.
“People have been saying the short story is dying for a lot longer than they’ve been saying newspapers are dying,” Jordan Bass, managing editor of the quarterly, said in an interview on Tuesday. “But you can still put out a great short-story magazine that people want to grab. The same is true for newspapers.”
McSweeney’s has an iPhone app called Small Chair.
We hereby announce the debut of the Small Chair, a weekly sampler from all branches of the McSweeney’s family. One week you might receive a story from the upcoming Quarterly, the next week an interview from the Believer, the next a short film from a future Wholphin. Occasionally, it might be a song, an art portfolio, who knows. Early contributors will include Spike Jonze, Wells Tower, Chris Ware, and Jonathan Ames. This material will not be available online and is pretty sure to be good stuff.
My iPhone usage has been almost exclusively baby-related for the past few days, but I hope to try this app out soon.
McSweeney’s explains Twitter. Finally!
Twitter seems to be, first and foremost, an online haven where teenagers making drugs can telegraph secret code words to arrange gang fights and orgies. It also functions as a vehicle for teasing peers until they commit suicide.
The McSweeney’s Twitter account has never been updated but has 702 followers.
Update: McSweeney’s official Twitter account is being updated but only has 439 followers. (thx, alex)
A subjective list — is there any other kind? — of the top 10 issues of McSweeney’s magazine.
Remember the Transformers movie from this summer? Those were fun times. Here’s a letter to Optimus Prime from his Geico auto insurance agent. “Mr. Prime, I am going to remind you again: Your policy with GEICO only reimburses you for accidents that occur while you are engaged in the reasonable use of your truck and trailer. As I told you when you originally purchased the policy, GEICO does not offer Megatron coverage, Starscream coverage, Soundwave coverage, Decepticon coverage, or Energon-blast coverage. Those are just not the types of damages we would expect from reasonable use.”
McSweeney’s is opening a small design shop called Timothy McSweeney’s Design House to “tackle smaller jobs where the personal touch is welcome”. If I wanted a job, this is one of the places I’d apply. (via quipsologies)
Bad news from McSweeney’s: their distributor filed for bankruptcy late last year and now they’re out $130,000:
As you may know, it’s been tough going for many independent publishers, McSweeney’s included, since our distributor filed for bankruptcy last December 29. We lost about $130,000 — actual earnings that were simply erased. Due to the intricacies of the settlement, the real hurt didn’t hit right away, but it’s hitting now. Like most small publishers, our business is basically a break-even proposition in the best of times, so there’s really no way to absorb a loss that big.
To try and make up the gap, they’re having a big sale and are also auctioning off some “rare items” like original art from Chris Ware, proofs from issues, signed copies of things, a painting by Dave Eggers of George W. Bush as a double amputee, and so on. In addition to Ware and Eggers, there’s stuff from David Byrne, Nick Hornsby, and Spike Jonze. I’ve long admired McSweeney’s for their editorial and business approach…it would be a shame to see them go out of business because of another company’s financial difficulties. So give them a hand by purchasing something, if you’d like.
Took in The Art of the Book lecture at the 92nd Street Y last night. Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd (“a modern day Truman Capote” I heard him described as afterward), Dave Eggers, with Michael Beirut moderating. One of the most interesting comments came late in the proceedings from Dave Eggers, who described one of the main goals of the McSweeney’s design staff as attempting to design the books as well and as beautifully as they could as objects so that people would be compelled to save them. That way, even if people didn’t have time to read them soon after purchase, they couldn’t bear to throw/give the book away and would instead put it on their shelf in the hopes — McSweeney’s hopes, that is — that the buyer would at some point pull it down off the shelf and give it another try.
This design goal runs counter to the design process behind most contemporary book jackets, which are engineered almost entirely for the purpose of eliciting in the potential buyer a “buy me” reaction within two seconds of spotting them. McSweeney’s, as a champion of authors, wants the writing to be read while most major publishing companies, as champions of their shareholders, want books to be purchased. People buying books is important to the goal of getting the writing within them read, but McSweeney’s emphasis on designing books to last in people’s homes is a clever way to pursue that goal after the sale.
Neal Pollack on how his literary persona got out of hand. “For the last five years, I’ve lived with a dark, obnoxious fictional version of myself. It’s been an irritating time.”
Pickup Lines Used by Mario [of Mario Bros. fame]. “Are you a magic flower? Because you are burning me up.”
weeks months ago, I chose this book as the first official selection of the unofficial kottke.org book club. The idea of the book club is that I tell you what book I’m going to read next, you can read along if you’d like, and then we get together to discuss it in the comments of a thread like this one.
What a terrible idea…I apologize for even suggesting it. I have trouble reviewing books as it is without the added pressure of a deadline and having people (if any of you actually chose to follow along) who read the book depending on me getting some sort of rip-roaring conversation going. As a result, even though I finished the book weeks and weeks ago, I’ve been avoiding writing this review. However, since I got myself into this, I’m going to give it a shot and hope that someone else can rescue us with a thoughtful, knowledgeable review of the book and/or the comics format in the comments. Here we go.
Many of my friends are into comics in one way or another. I never was, not even as a kid (ok, not exactly true…I really liked Bloom County). I go into comic shops, thumb through comic books and graphic novels, and leave wondering what the hell all the fuss is about. I guess you could say I don’t get comics. Which is odd because as a sort of socially awkward dork, I should identify with many of the characters in the stories and the artists drawing them (and I mean that in a good way).
A few years ago, I bought Chris Ware’s perfect Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, one of my all-time favorite pieces of media. But that’s been the exception to the rule for me and comics. McSweeney’s #13 contained a comic by Chris Ware (he designed the wonderful dust cover as well); it, The Little Nun strips by Mark Newgarden, and the wonderfully spare comics by Richard McGuire (which reminded me of Powers of Ten) were the highlights for me.
So instead of a review, a question. What am I missing here? Why do you enjoy comics and/or graphic novels? I can guess why they are appealing, but I’d rather hear about it from you guys.