I was thinking that since a blog comes with the site that I should use it, and given the content of the site that I should probably write about what I’m reading or have just read–although I can’t guarantee that I’ll always stick to that. But today, McSweeney’s Issue 50, it is!
I was no longer sure if I still had a subscription when to my pleasant surprise, the fiftieth issue arrived in the mail. The fiftieth issue made up of stories by fifty amazing authors, and this beautiful gem of an aspiration at the end of an unannounced introduction of sorts following the copyright: Be loved in the way you find most right. That’s the best we can do, now or ever, as humans, this temporary species flourishing–for we are, in many ways we are–on this blue space-rock hurtling toward oblivion. Be loved in the way you find most right.
The stories that stand out from the issue for me include Ismet Prcic’s “TO
WHOM MR. JULIUS CRAAB IT MAY CONCERN,” which leverages humor with the limited English of the Bosnian refuge writing the letter to effectively draw me in before introducing the narrator’s far less amusing past and present circumstances. I also enjoyed Sherman Alexie’s “Deliver Me,” with its pizza-delivering protagonist and exacting boss, as well as the short-short stories from Lydia Davis. “The Deaths of Henry King: Selected Demises” by Jesse Ball and Brian Evenson encouraged me to revel in my fascination with death through thirty-six versions assigned to characters of the eponymous name before holding a mirror to that fascination with the thirty-seventh. I was compelled by the strong voice in “Please Fund Me” by Rebecca Curtis, in which the narrator entreats an audience to contribute to her PleaseFundMe.com request for a pool boy. “The Truth” by Carson Mell also stuck with me, a very short tale under three pages, in which the attraction between a man and a woman is deftly drawn, and the seed of a complication–that may or may not really be one–is introduced and seen to a conclusion.
“The Secret Room” by Benjamin Percy also stuck with me, both because the concept of the room was masterfully laid out with lovely as well as disturbing examples–but also because it is only husbands who build them. My irritation with the rooms being such gendered likely comes from my desire for a secret room. Or at least one a bit more private than a mini divider screen stretched around a portion of the dining room table. While it’s supposed to suggest a wall, no one is buying it. People peek behind it without asking and talk to me over it in a manner they really wouldn’t if it were a closed door.