Item description for McSweeney's At War for the Foreseeable Future and He's Never Been so Scared (Quarterly Concern Issue 14) by Dave Eggers...
Issue 14 features a return of the hard-hitting journalism that has made McSweeney's our nation's preeminent source of Whys and Wherefores: Joshuah Bearman leads a daring investigation into the enigmatic Great Gerbil (Rhombomys Opimus) of central Asia, uncovering signs of an impending disaster that could totally mess up life as we know it. The issue also includes strange and wonderful stories from T.C. Boyle, Susan Straight, Jim Shepard, Wells Tower, Jessica Anthony, Chris Bachelder, and approximately seven other good people. At least one of these stories contains the following paragraph: "I am Felicius Victor, son of the centurion Annius Equester, on active service in the Twentieth Cohort and scribe for special services for the administration of the entire legion. All day, every day, I'm sad. Over the heather the wet wind blows continuously. The rain comes pattering out of the sky. My bowels fail me regularly and others come and go on the continuous bench of our latrine while I huddle there on the cold stone."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Release Date Sep 27, 2004
ISBN 1932416129 ISBN13 9781932416121
Availability 0 units.
More About Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers grew up near Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney's publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. In 2002, he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center in San Francisco's Mission District. Sister centers have since opened in seven other American cities under the umbrella of 826 National, and like-minded centers have opened in Dublin, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Birmingham, Alabama, among other locations. His work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, France's Prix Medicis, Germany's Albatross Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the American Book Award. Eggers lives in Northern California with his family.
Dave Eggers currently resides in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about McSweeney's At War for the Foreseeable Future and He's Never Been so Scared (Quarterly Concern Issue 14)?
Tendrils Of Perverse Speculation Oct 29, 2005
McSweeney's is always a mixed bag, and this installment is no exception. Overall the offerings range from the insufferably longwinded and trying ("The Doubtfulness of Water"), to wonders inconceivable in any other venue. I found "A Child's Book of Sickness and Death" to be walking the edge of being socially acceptable, but entirely redeemed by the purported illnesses of the animals involved, such as the cat who suffered from feline leukemic indecisiveness, which has interesting symptoms, my favorite of which is that he has a feeling at the tip of his tail the same time each day like someone is putting it in their mouth and chewing. (There is also a pony with dreadful hoof dismay and a peacock with crispy lung surprise, to name but a few.)
I enjoyed the foray into art by Lawrence Weschler, "Convergence: Thumb in Eye," which details the history in modern art of giant sculpted thumbs (including those of Saddam Hussein). The entire piece can be neatly summed up by the Zen teaching "When I point my finger at the moon, don't mistake my finger for the moon." (Or so it is claimed.)
"What I Ain't" linked, for the first time in my consciousness, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, and navel string, while "Convergence: Torso as Face" dealt with the contemporary influence of Magritte's art. I also took relative delight in the songs noted in "Pigs in Space," which include "Strap on the Toilet Song," "Making the Omelette Song," and, of course, the "Semolina Song." The article goes into a certain detail regarding "two pig-sized stasis chambers," and their influence on colic, gas, bloat, and explosion of pigs.
Without question, though, the best work in the book is "Rodent Disaster in Xinjiang," which details a Great Gerbil invasion plaguing parts of China. I was hooked as soon as I read the unabridged title of the piece: "An Investigation Into Xinjiang's Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils, Which May or May Not be Locked in a Death-Struggle With the Golden Eagle, With Important Parallels and/or Implications Regarding Koala Bears, The Pied Piper, Spongmonkeys, Cane Toads, Black Death, [and] Text-Messaging." This is an absolutely stunning work and I recommend the entire volume highly on the basis of this one piece. The Chinese gerbil invasion is followed from start to finish in a historical framework, and includes official viewpoints of the Chinese Regional Headquarters for Controlling Locusts and Rodents, as well as noted gerbil researchers like Helga Fritzsche, who notes that "when gerbils excrete their dusty pellets of rare urine concentrate, they do so entirely without sound." (Ponder that, please.) It turns out that these gerbils are not ordinary pet store sized, they are about 16 inches long from snout to tail, and are causing environmental havoc, which, naturally, has led the Chinese government to introduce breeding pairs of Golden Eagles to eat them. They chose Golden Eagles because they have multiple anti-gerbil attack modes, the most useful of which is "contour flight with short glide attack." The zoo curator of the Los Angeles zoo offered up that the Great Gerbils might be "what's in those Quizno's commercials." I endorse any article that can cite the history of Spongmonkeys as a footnote as a result of a bona fide zookeeper's comments. (He offered only this practical advice "If you're planning on going to China with all those gerbils, be sure to tuck your pants into your boots.") We also learn that Chaos theory is responsible for the boom-bust cycle in rodental disasters involving lemmings, voles, marmots, and gerbils as their breeding cycle is non-Newtonian, but we can rejoice since now (as of November 19, 2003) the Chinese Autonomous Region Locust and Rodent Elimination Command Post is on the case, but so far all that has been conclusively determined (after much debate) is that Great Gerbils do not wink at people.
Although uneven, I give the volume four stars overall, if for no other reason than the greatness (and lunacy) of the detailed account of the duel with the Great Gerbil.