Sunday 29 April 2018

McSweeney's 41

Finished April 24
McSweeney's 41 edited by Dave Eggers

The collection of writing here varies widely in nature and setting. Some focus on the characters, such as the first story River Camp, where we have two men, brothers-in-law with very different outlooks on life, who have agreed to take a trip together in the wilderness. Their guide is a real character, and the two men don't exactly get along. The reader sees how they react to a difficult situation, each in their own way.
Another story, American Tall Tale is based on the folk tale of Paul Bunyan, but definitely takes the plot in a direction I hadn't anticipated.
There is also nonfiction included here, such as A Land Rush in Iran, where the author takes a closer look at the changes to one neighbourhood in Tehran over time. Another nonfiction inclusion, What Happens After Sixteen Years in Prison, looks at two sisters convicted for a crime they didn't commit, facing a troubling future when they are finally freed.
Another character-focused story is The Wolf and the Wild, where a man sentenced to community service finds real satisfaction in one of his assignments, but finds that others involved in the project aren't really interested in his ideas.
Stay Where You Are involves a situation with a couple who are traveling and get taken into the forest by a gunman. We see inside their thoughts about the situation and about their crumbling relationship.
Some stories, like Afternoon Street, feel surreal, like we are inside the mind of someone mentally ill or under the influence of something.
The main character in Robot Sex is an advanced robot working an office job and dealing with loneliness.
The book ends with four stories, each by a different Australian Aboriginal author. I think I enjoyed these the most.

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