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McSweeney's Issue 16 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) Hardcover – June 16, 2005
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Denis Johnson proves why he's the best known of all the contributors by providing an extract from his novel "Tree of Smoke" entitled "Lucky". The story follows young servicemen in Indo-China before Vietnam escalates into a full blown conflict and includes reactions to the assassination of JFK, prostitutes, squabbling brothers, and a monkey shooting all in 15 pages! Roddy Doyle, usually a very strong short story writer, provides a so so story called "Home to Harlem" while Adam Levin's "Considering the Bittersweet End of Susan Falls" has its moments as the story centres on a legless, abnormally intelligent teen girl in college falling in love with an older girl and then suddenly dying.
Robert Coover writes a story on the playing cards about the Queen of Hearts baking tarts for the King and then having them stolen. The idea is that, besides the first and last card, you shuffle the deck and each time read a different story. It's a great idea but isn't as amazing as it sounds. Each card ends with a character doing something and the event being covered on the next card. Eg. "The Knave of Hearts then..." and the next card beginning "... jumped through the window into the garden". It's ok and a neat idea but basically not that enthralling especially as Coover's story isn't very interesting.Read more ›
The deck of cards is actually an exceptional story written by Robert Coover in which there are a beginning and ending card, with the rest (2 of Hearts through King of Hearts) being readable in any order, allowing you to "shuffle" the story as you see fit. The effect works with the delight of a really good card trick, and the story (about a king and his missing tarts) is very funny, very silly, and very well-written.
The novella (by Ann Beattie) is a concept piece without plot or narrative, a character exercise, essentially, with many, many people eulogizing a saintlike artist. It would have made a good short, but is far too long to be a novella.
The stories in the book are prettinear all solid, featuring a common thread of infirmity: Brian Evenson writes a powerfully comitragic story about a father who loses the ability to speak coherently, Kevin Moffett writes with spot-on stream-of-consciousness about an ADD-addled uncle, and Adam Levin has a terrific story about a legless and suicidal girl whose infirmity leads her to early genius though she maintains her adolescent hormones. There's also an excerpt from Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, and good stories by Pia Ehrhardt (about a woman daring herself into infidelity), Hannah Pittard (about a colony of outcasts investigating a string of dog hangings), and Miranda Mellis (a tiny portrait of a zany therapist). Nathaniel Minton's story is another highlight, a canny rendition of a child's perception of the world as an imaginative, Calvin-like boy eavesdrops a bizarre cult ritual.Read more ›
for content, the main book has some of the best stories i've heard all year. highlights include: "considering the bittersweet end of susan falls", roddy doyle's short story, and some other stuff i can't remember the name of.