The Gist: A coffee-table retrospective of twelve years of McSweeney’s, told issue-by-issue and book-by-book, and, focusing on the text-heavy, deliberately arcane design that marks everything Dave Eggers has ever touched.
Author: The editors of McSweeney’s
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Page Count: 256
Pages Read: 50ish? We were skipping around.
Does It Work? It’s clogged by tepid interviews with the people responsible, who never offer more insight than: “Working at McSweeney’s is fun,” and, “Dave Eggers is a genius.” Of course, coffee-table books are for looking at, not reading, so more criminal is that there are simply too few pretty pictures to glance at. We expect wordiness from McSweeney’s, of course, but we also expect meaningful words.
Best Moment So Far: David Byrne! “It was design that lured me into the McSweeney’s world. I probably picked up an early issue at St. Mark’s Bookshop and found it baffling (the letters section) and seductive…. [I] realized that the journal implied that somewhere possibly close by there existed a whole scene or world that either I didn’t know about or that was completely imaginary.”
Odds We’ll Finish It: 500/1. The list of Coffee Table Books We’ve Read Straight Through is short. Right now, it stops after one, and this won’t be number two.
Read Instead: How about something pretty?