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Mrs. McSweeney
June 19, 2007 - 11:01am


I was plucked by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency from gray anonymity and propelled onto the glamorous stage of Internet pseudonymity , where I first caught the eyes of the just-as-astute editors at Inside Higher Ed. As a result, I became, as you know, the very first personal valet to IHE founding editor Doug Lederman. It’s one of those American success stories we’ve tried to sell the Russians for the last century, and when Dick Cheney stands up at a Rotary lunch in Merna, Nebraska, and asks, “Can we do it?”, I’m there to answer proudly, “Yes, we can!”

That’s why I want to call your attention to this. The distributor for McSweeney’s (the print publishing arm), which also handled a number of other independent publishers, failed suddenly at the end of last year, stripping McS, a “basically a break-even proposition in the best of times,” of $130,000. Full story here .

I imagine this must be like having your family’s only car stolen on the day before you realized that your insurance premium had been stolen by a guy who forged your name on the check so he could pay somebody to steal your dog. You and yours would be hurting, and that’s what’s happened to the McSweeneys, who live next door to you and are, after all, good people, even if they let their children pick your flowers and grow their hair long enough that no one can tell boy from girl anymore. (Among other things, all profits from Dave Eggers’ novel What is the What , published by McSweeney’s, go to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation .)

And so, if you’re a guy or gal who likes good writing, music, art, and a certain buccaneer spirit (“Impossible you say? Nothing is impossible when you work for the circus!” ), please bop on down to the McSweeney’s web store and pick something up, in the process helping our beloved Mother McS recoup her losses. Every single item is on sale, including subscriptions to three daring and beautiful magazines.

Also, there’s an ebay auction going on, with fascinating items donated by McS contributors, including original art by David Byrne, Chris Ware, and Marcel Dzama, and a personal backstage tour of The Daily Show, led by John Hodgman. There’s more to come in the next few days from Michael Chabon, Art Spiegelman, and David Foster Wallace. Let me tell you something—if this thing got any hipper, you’d have to move to San Fran and get a tattoo on the small of your back (a “tramp stamp,” my students call it) just to look at the sale.

Personally, I used the mighty power of Father’s Day to get some of my long-desired McSweeney’s geedunk in here, including The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets (100 poems by 50 poets in 10 poet-chains that run through Mary Karr, Denis Johnson, C.D. Wright, Michael Ondaatje, John Ashbery, Mark Doty, Dean Young, Yusef Komunyakaa, and dozens more), and a t-shirt with an illustration of a cute little girl shooting some kind of Janus-monster full of arrows; the caption reads, “McSweeney’s. Hold still.”

In my writing I sometimes like to shoot arrows into big two-faced people, so I feel a strong connection there. Little McSweeney’s girl, c’est moi.


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