Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: "McSweeney's, Vol. 35"

The newest installment in the McSweeney's canon (Issue 35) is a mostly-delightful hodgepodge. Robert Barnes' lunch-bag art is amusing, and the collection of Norwegian short stories and poems which make up about a third of the volume made for fascinating reading (prepare for snow, drugs, and mosquitoes). I quite enjoyed John Erik Riley and Mikkel Bugge's introduction to the Norwegian stories, in which the authors point out the strong government support writers receive for practicing their craft (allowing them to experiment "in ways that would otherwise be quite difficult in such a small market").

Roddy Doyle's opening story, "Local," about an unlikely candidate standing for political office in Ireland, was very nice; I skipped much of Hilton Als' "His Sister, Her Monologue" because it definitely wasn't up my alley. But the standout piece for me in this volume (by far) was Steven Millhauser's "Phantoms," which was scary and imaginative and completely unnerving (I should not have been reading it late at night). It alone is worth the price for the issue.

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