I’m not usually a shill—in fact, I railed against product placement not so long ago—but this is important. McSweeney’s, among other small presses, got into trouble when its distributor went belly-up last December.
I know, I know—it’s fashionable to make swipes about the twee-ness and arrested adolescence of Dave Eggers and company. Some of it’s worthwhile criticism, but a lot of it’s just crap. Whatever faults Eggers has as a writer, he’s a superb editor and groundbreaking designer, and his press has repeatedly gone out of its way to support older experimental writers who should be better known than they are. McSweeney’s has singlehandedly introduced me to what have quickly become three of my favorite writers: Stephen Dixon, Lydia Davis, and Lawrence Weschler. None of these writers are spring chickens—Dixon’s been publishing, in near-obscurity, for longer than most of the McSweeney’s staff has been alive—but each push the forms of fiction (and, in Weschler’s case, nonfiction) to the breaking point, while also delivering works of emotional clarity.
Their books don’t fall under what’s seen as the McSweeney’s rubric, which makes me wonder if such a thing really exists. In any case, the aforementioned books are among the best published by each author, which gives credence to the idea that McSweeney’s is a damn good press, and that Eggers is a fine editor. In any case, the press has published lots of good stuff, is committed to being independent, and has mostly done so while simultaneously having extremely high editorial and production values and also getting media attention and major national awards. Not bad for a small press.
So, if you’ve ever had any desire to buy a McSweeney’s product, now’s the time. Check out their store and eBay auctions for more details.
Thanks, Ernesto, for the heads-up.