McSweeney's Quarterly is a "literary magazine" of sorts edited and published by David Eggers, of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius fame. (entitled "McSweeney's" with a subtitle that changes every few months) is a related website, started around the same time as a way for Eggers to get the editor out of his system and publish small pieces of his own while he was working on AHWoSG. If I recall correctly, that would have been around the summer of 1998 or thereabouts.

I've got issue #4 of the print version, and for the most part it's nothing to write home about (yes, I know Jonathan Lethem thinks Kafka is funny; no, I don't care), but the website has been consistently worth reading since I started visiting it in autumn 1998. Back then it was updated only twice a week or so, but as the Eggers self-promotion machine has gained momentum, there's been a flood of submissions and it's usually updated every weekday now. I'm sure there are literati out there who think it was better before it was hip, but they're just like that. It has gotten a bit more "normal" over time, but you can't stay in the same place forever.

Among other treats, the following have appeared on the website:

I saw Eggers read from AHWoSG this winter at Wordsworth Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He's charming and amusing, but again: Small doses. I did get my issue #4 signed, just because I could. My grandchildren will not have heard of this guy, however momentarily entertaining he may be. The best part of the reading was when Eggers complained about how the economics of the publishing industry have gotten so out of whack that editors hardly edit any more; AHWoSG was edited by Eggers and his friends because the publisher couldn't be bothered. I'm as shocked and horrified by that as he is, and so should you be. Eggers, as an editor, edits, and enjoys doing so. This shows in the website and in the print magazine: Eggers is a very detail-oriented person who cares very much about doing things right. I love that.

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