A subscription to MQC is a thing of wonder, excitement and reassurance that people truly care about what they do. The main guise of MQC is "a quarterly literary magazine edited by Dave Eggers." Sounds vaguely interesting, right? Well over the past 19 quarters, McSweeney's has continually taken the self-imposed challenge to "make each issue very different from the last"- something exceptional in contemporary (or even in the whole history of) book publishing. The latest issue (19) comes in a faux cigar box with reprints of obscure ephemeral pamphlets: a WWI sex education booklet for soldiers; a 1957 US armed forces pocket guide to the Middle East; G.W. Bush's dental hygiene record from 1973; several civil defense publications that even includes a booklet on Fallout Protection (one that I am proud to have an original copy of) and many others that have cumulatively relevant themes. Of course, as with all issues, there is a book with edgy contemporary fiction (the original McSweeney's only published pieces rejected by other publications).
Each book is in itself a wonderful thing to behold and even to read should you be so inclined. Issue 11 has an intricate gold-stamped leatherette cover (4 different colors for the completest collector out there) along with a DVD that shows the authors reading pieces of their work. The DVD also includes deleted scenes and alternate angles so you can see a cameraman eating a sandwich in a DVD verité that is as entertaining as any DVD "extra". Issue 13 is all comics with an amazing wrap-around fold-out dust jacket by Chris Ware (again with gold foil stamping to drool over) . Issue 17 is disguised as a bundle of junk mail with envelopes and catalogs that defy bottom line publishing motivation. Perhaps it is the "I wish I thought of that and actually had the wherewithal to follow through with it and produce fake sausage basket catalog" factor. It is so dryly tongue-in-cheek that it might actually pass as real junk mail were it not for the dozen other pieces that add up to a surrealist day at the mailbox. The long out-of-print Issue 6 features an audio soundtrack CD with tracks specifically composed for the issue by Philip Glass and They Might be Giants, among others. Issues 4 & 7 use variations of the loose pamphlet to great effect. Of course not every issue is an over-the-top package designer's dream, but that in itself is part of the surprise factor.
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