Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book Review, "McSweeney's, Vol. 34"

After their last production, it's not too much of a surprise that the good folks at McSweeney's went a little easier on Volume 34, which consists of two paperbound books united by a decorated plastic sleeve (image here). The first book includes nearly twenty pages of letters from the likes of John Hodgman and Sarah Vowell, eleven short stories, and nineteen self portraits (by, among others, Sarah Silverman, Jack Pendarvis, and Jonathan Lethem).

The stories were (mostly) good, and included a piece on Vietnamese-American journalism in New Orleans after Katrina; a T.C. Boyle tale of a shipwreck, and Tom Barbash's "Letters from the Academy," a one-sided correspondence from a very creepy tennis instructor.

"The End of Major Combat Operations" is the other volume included here. By reporter and author Nick McDonell, it's a 250+ page compilation of anecdotes and reporting from the ground in Iraq, covering everything from the dangerous lives of interpreters to the jargon deployed by American soldiers to the ad hoc modifications that had to be made to army vehicles so that they didn't continuously rip down Iraqi power lines. It's the sort of writing that doesn't show up in the conventional reports from the front, and kudos to McSweeney's for publishing it.

Another fine production from Eggers & Co.

No comments: