Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evidence of Superb Marketing: McSweeney's August Update!

Sent from my iPhone on Cape Cod, miles from my copy of

Millard Kaufman's

Bowl of Cherries which rests on my nightstand (inverted wooden wine crate)

On Aug 18, 2011, at 8:41 PM, "McSweeney's" <> wrote:

M c S W E E N E Y ' S   A U G U S T   U P D A T E

T A B L E   O F   C O N T E N T S :

Greetings from McSweeney's
The Latest McSweeney's Books
An Excerpt from McSweeney's 39
Spectacular Subscription Specials
A Teaser from the Believer
And a cake made to look like McSweeney's 37

Yes, that was Lucky Peach there in the NYT a few weeks ago, extolled as "a glorious, improbable artifact" and "A reminder of print's true wingspan"; and damned if it wasn't Lucky Peach again yesterday, this time in Time magazine, held up as "a masterpiece of modern-food culture"! (Unlike, Time sez, our "Immaculately styled... airlessly ironic" other quarterly —ouch, Josh Ozersky! I am filling the airless immaculacy of this newsletter with real tears, now. But maybe he'll like next issue's disheveled, oxygenated, Elmore Leonard/Julie Hecht/Jess Walter/Roberto Bolaño lineup a little better. To get back to the point:) Our oddball attempt at a food periodical has hit heights we'd hardly dreamed of, a month or two ago—cue montage of fruit-hued newsies being mobbed for copies, sidewalks full of Lucky Peach–reading mothers pushing baby strollers in which each baby can be seen also reading a tinier, baby-sized Lucky Peach , trainloads of crammed-together businessmen all reading Issue One, pan forward to train conductor reading same, train crashes, etc.—but we've restocked on the first issue once again, and every new subscription starting with Issue Two will help convince us that we are not imagining this improbable success, and that we should in fact keep making this magazine. So sign up, if you haven't!

Attention oughtta be paid, too, to the ever-growing McSweeney's McMullens imprint—our first four books (them being We Need a Horse, Symphony City, Here Comes the Cat, and The Author/Illustrator Starter Kit) are still available as one massively affordable bundle, and the next one has just popped up on preorder. It's a doozy, too: bar none one of the most beautiful books we've ever produced, Jordan Crane's Keep Our Secrets deploys the same heat-activated disappearing ink that graced Mr. Crane's cover for McSweeney's 35 , only this time he uses it to create what feels—gloriously, stunningly—like an entire hidden world. The effect has to be seen to be believed, which is why you really should preorder this one now; in the meantime, though, our series editor's teaser video offers a pretty good introduction. This one, trust us, is not to be missed.

Folks have been going nuts for our first stab at a cookbook, too—Mission Street Food has won nods from the New Yorker and Food & Wine (which tapped MSF cofounder/coauthor Karen Leibowitz to tell the restaurant's story), a great and thoughtful write-up on Bookslut, and a five-part series on Eater, and meanwhile, if you had any doubts about the culinary bona fides behind it, Mission Chinese Food, the latest incarnation of MSF itself, has just claimed the No. 2 spot on Bon Appetit 's list of the Best New Restaurants in America. Zowee!

And in other news—A Moment in the Sun author John Sayles's latest movie is opening this weekend! Amigo, set during the same Philippine-American War that threads through the second half of the novel, is already gathering early buzz, and Sayles himself is set to be at some of the initial screenings—you can find out where to find him on the official Amigo website. (If nothing else, go for Chris Cooper—he is amazing!) The book, meanwhile, continues to win over readers near and far—Nathaniel Rich, in the latest New York Review of Books, called it "an encyclopedic portrait of an American era when imperial, racist, and plutocratic power were asserted with exceptional force," and the Times Literary Supplement , in its own multi-page affirmation, invoked Dickens and Dos Passos both. And our last newsletter just missed John's Bookworm appearance, but it's there to be relived now—and just yesterday, Sayles hit Talk of the Nation, too. Go and listen, and then send someone the book!

One final note: if you haven't checked out our slightly damaged/super-cheap bargain books page lately, please do! New treasures abound. And then, witness:


T H E   L A T E S T   M c S W E E N E Y ' S   B O O K S

Keep Our Secrets
by Jordan Crane
A book printed with heat-sensitive, disappearing ink!

Two young children tour their noisy house with fresh eyes, discovering along the way that all is not as it seems. Featuring heat-sensitive, color-changing ink on every page, this book contains dozens of delightful surprises. Among them: a giant dog slumbering in a piano, a wishing puddle full of dimes, a raccoon that is actually a robot, and a camera that is secretly made of cheese.

For a walk-through of the book with McSweeney's McMullens editor/art director Brian McMullen and his son Alton, head on over to our YouTube channel.

***THIS IS A PREORDER. Books ordered now will ship in November. We put it up early because we're excited about it, and we think you (and your kids) will be, too.***

The Facts of Winter (paperback)
by Paul Poissel, translated by Paul La Farge

The Facts of Winter is not the best-known of Paul Poissel's works, but it is certainly the most fantastical. The book is a series of dreams, all dreamed by people in and around Paris during the winter of 1881, which is to say that it is a fictional account of the imaginary lives of people who may or may not be real, and who in any case lived a quarter of a century before the book was written, in 1904.

Paul Poissel was not born in 1848. As a young man, he did not set out to become the greatest Turkish architect in Paris. He did not fail to become the greatest Turkish architect in Paris. He never became a poet, or invented puzzles for an illustrated magazine. In 1904, he did not write this book, The Facts of Winter.

Paul La Farge has translated (from the original French) this collection of dreams—funny, haunting, enigmatic—all dreamed by people in and around Paris in 1881. La Farge's afterword investigates the Facts' creation, uncovering startling revelations, unknown truths, and new falsehoods.

"La Farge's book is a wispy reverie, and a collection of them too. An amnesiac's dream... barely there when closed in your palm, but opened, it performs sly thievery, nicking childlike flights of fancy lost to the magical realm between memory and imagination."
Village Voice

"La Farge is a master storyteller with cleverness and inventiveness to spare." —Philadelphia Inquirer

***THIS IS A PREORDER. If you order now, your book will ship at the end of the month.***

Misadventure (paperback)
by Millard Kaufman

Jack Hopkins, an ill-fated real-estate agent with an unhappy past, doesn't like what he does for a living. Luckily, though, he has two new job offers: Darlene Hunt wants to pay him ten million dollars to kill her husband, and her husband wants to hire him to kill Darlene Hunt. Before he can figure out who to work for, though, or how a private island off the coast of Mexico fits into it all, the dead bodies have already started piling up.

The second novel from Millard Kaufman—nonagenarian author, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and World War II Marine—Misadventure is a serpentine murder mystery set against a backdrop of LA real-estate schemes, ruby-wearing femmes fatale, and more love triangles than any one man should attempt to get into. Written with a style and flair that's reminiscent of Chinatown by way of the Coen Brothers, it's an unforgettable addition to the genre—a noir par excellence, with wit to match.

"A terrific California hard-boiled tale.... Savvy readers will recognize and relish the Double Indemnity-like terrain. Misadventure, which brims over with black humor and terse dialogue, gives new meaning to the Bette Davis line, 'Old age ain't for sissies.' Kaufman, who as a Marine fought at Guadalcanal and then later tackled novel writing in his twilight years, was no sissy."
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR

"Moving from palatial Malibu to sleazy inner-city Los Angeles and beyond, Kaufman, best known as the co-creator of Mr. Magoo, shows a penchant for surprising twists. The book's outrageous situations and fast-talking dialogue keep the intrigue running high... Full of solid prose and comically twisted moments, it makes us wish he'd penned a few more."
—Josh Frank, TimeOut New York

"From page one, Misadventure sparkles with the late writer's wit and wisdom. His prose is precise, efficient, and often surprising... A rollicking comic-noir page-turner that is equal parts Elmore Leonard and Dashiell Hammett, with bits of Glengarry Glen Ross and Lolita thrown in for good measure."
—Kevin Hobson, The Rumpus


A N   E X C E R P T   F R O M   M c S W E E N E Y' S   3 9

They were sitting under one of the raffia huts when Mallama let out a hiss. Pat had only become aware of the sound since arriving in the Gambia. The hiss was an all-purpose sound. It could signify anger, exasperation, disgust.

"What do white women see in these bumsters?" Mallama said. "They are layabouts. Drug addicts. Most of them have diseases."

Pat looked up. An older white lady was walking hand in hand with a twenty-something Gambian boy. They were laughing. The older lady seemed to be laughing very hard. They both looked happy and carefree. Pat turned to Mallama.

"Who are they?" she asked, nodding in the direction of the couple, who were apparently headed toward one of the more exclusive beach huts.

"The boy is a bumster," Mallama replied.

* * *

Two years later Pat returned to the Gambia. Her husband had died the year before. He had died of cancer, and his illness had not been easy on either of them. She needed a break from it all.

On her second day there, the young man who had helped take her luggage to her room from the lobby knocked on her door. He was dressed in the red and black uniform of the hotel, with its garish crest of a lion and a palm tree sewn into the pocket. He smiled at her and introduced himself as Usman.

"Madam lost someone very close to her and is unhappy," he said.

She could not tell if he was asking a question or making a statement. For some reason Pat always assumed that non-Westerners had a gift for divining. It was not something she had given much thought to. She merely assumed it, the same way she assumed that the blind had an acute sense of hearing.

"Why do you say that, Usman?" she asked.

She found the name pleasant on her lips. She thought the uncomplicated nature of it rather charming. Besides, the two syllables that made up the name were familiar—Us-Man.

"Usman can help madam be happy again," the young man said. He smiled as he said this, and bowed.

"Everyone wants to be happy, don't they?" Pat said. "Including you, I imagine."

"I will arrange introductions," Usman said. "If madam is happy, Usman would be happy." Then he bowed his head and left.

That evening, Usman returned with a tall dark man who seemed to be in his thirties. Usman introduced him as my senior brother. His name was Ahmed. Pat invited them in and asked Ahmed to take a seat, but he made for the rug and quickly sat with both feet tucked underneath him. Usman disappeared for a moment then returned with a tray of hot water, Lipton teabags, and milk and sugar. He handed the tray to Ahmed, and then he left.

Ahmed sat at Pat's feet and began to brew her a cup of tea. He added a cube of sugar without asking her if she drank her tea with or without sugar. There was a certain serenity that he brought to the task. Pat had never had anybody brew her tea for her. She accepted the cup of tea thankfully. They had not exchanged many words. Ahmed made a cup for himself, took a sip, and smiled.

"My small brother Usman say madam travel from far and lose someone and is not happy. God bring madam happiness soon. Ahmed here to help madam be happy." He smiled again and took another sip from his teacup.

"I would be quite glad if you showed me the happiness tree," Pat said. "We could both sit underneath it."

Ahmed smiled and said nothing for a while. Then he raised his index finger and said, "God give happiness. Me I fear God. You believe in God madam?"

From her previous travels she knew that to answer in anything but the affirmative would be deemed highly offensive.

"Yes, I believe in a kind and happy God," she said.

—from E.C. Osondu's "Bumsters," in McSweeney's 39! To read more, subscribe right here.


S P E C T A C U L A R   S U B S C R I P T I O N

Get in on the ground floor and subscribe to our new food-writing quarterly for just $28—a very respectable 30 percent off the cover price. Issue 2 is aimed squarely at the subject of "The Sweet Spot," with recipes and writing from David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Adam Gollner, Kevin Pang, René Redzepi, and Christina Tosi!

Begin or renew your (or a friend's!) subscription to McSweeney's for just $55—you'll begin (or they will!) with Issue 39, featuring Julie Hecht, Jess Walter, Elmore Leonard, Roberto Bolaño, and some really special other folks besides.

Begin or renew your subscription to the Believer today for just $45—new Believer subscriptions will begin with our July/August Music Issue! And each month after that, you'll receive a bounty of new articles, interviews, reviews, poems, and columns, all in perfect-bound print; you'll have the opportunity to study up close the beautiful illustrations of Charles Burns, Tony Millionaire, and our regular raft of guest artists and photographers; you can pore over each issue's two-page vertically-oriented Schema spread; you'll enjoy the feel of the Westcan Printing Group's gorgeous "Roland Enviro 100 Natural" recycled acid-free heavy stock paper against your hands, fingertips, and face; and you'll save a hefty percentage off the $8 cover price.

Subscribe to Wholphin today for just $50—you can start with no. 13, featuring Lizzy Caplan and T.J. Miller as a very inebriated couple, David Michôd's story of a trouble teenager with a crossbow, and animated visions of our galactic future from the mind of Dash Shaw, or with no. 14, featuring both Will Oldham and the Fukushima Evacuation Zone. It's your choice!

Subscribing to both entities separately usually costs $100—and even that's a steal. But through this fruitful loophole, four issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and nine issues of the Believer magazine can be had for a measly $90! A true deal.

Why stop at one quarterly? With two, the monumental experience of receiving an infrequently published periodical can be had eight times each year. And the kicker is, you'll save a little bit of money too—it's $95 for both. Your McSweeney's subscription will start with Issue 39; your Wholphin subscription will start with no. 13.

Both the Believer and Wholphin for just $85—eclecticism has never been so affordable. You'll get nine issues of the Believer (starting with the July/August Music Issue), four issues of our Wholphin DVD quarterly (starting with the thirteenth issue), and a feeling of deep completion.

JUST $135 US (NORMALLY $150 US):
Normally reserved for presidents and their immediate family members, this exquisite package is now available to all, and priced for the people at $135. You'll receive four issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, starting with Issue 39, nine issues of the Believer, starting with the July/August Music Issue, and four issues of Wholphin, starting with the thirteenth issue. That's seventeen issues of one thing or another, enough to establish a modest personal library.

A year after launching the inaugural, experimental Year of Shirts subscription, we're officially deeming it a success—which means, equally officially, we're opening the doors to an ongoing subscription (an ongoing investment, if you will). If you enroll now, you'll get six shirts over the course of one year, from the sketch pads of Marc Bell and five others we've yet to contact.

In response to popular request and a vivid dream, we created the Book Release Club a little while back—some sixty books ago, technically, though it seems like hardly twenty-three. Similar in spirit to a book-of-the-month club, the BRC sends its subscribers our next eight McSweeney's books one by one as they roll off the press, all for a paltry $100.

Sign up today and you'll start with The Facts of Winter, by Paul Poissel (or is it?).


A   T E A S E R   F R O M   T H E   B E L I E V E R

Chronological list of dogs killed in novels by Stephen King

Mongrel cocker (hanged, Salem's Lot)
Farm dog (kicked to death, The Dead Zone)
Doberman (shot, Firestarter)
Saint Bernard (beaten with a baseball bat, Cujo)
Two mongrels (old age, Pet Sematary)
Mutant dog (eaten by a monster worm, The Talisman)
Mutt (meat laced with insect poison, IT)
Mongrel (stoned to death, Eyes of the Dragon)
Most dogs (super-flu, The Stand)
O Mutt (shot, Gerald's Game)
Beagle (black viscous substance, Insomnia)
Half-breed collie (broken neck, The Green Mile)
Mystical dog (forced into reality and subsequently killed by old bullet wound, Black House)
German shepherd (combusted and shot, From A Buick 8)
Poodle (run down by a limo, Cell)
Jack Russell terrier (suffocated, Duma Key)

—from Pierce Smith, in the September issue! To read more, subscribe right here.


A N D   A   C A K E   M A D E   T O   L O O K   L I K E
M c S W E E N E Y' S   3 7

Courtesy of the librarians at Georgetown, Texas's Southwestern University!

To get the issue itself, click right here.

Until next month,


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I read the whole thing, too!