McSweeney’s goes criminal

The 46th issue of McSweeney's Quarterly contains 13 crime stories from Latin America.
The 46th issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly contains 13 crime stories from Latin America.

Those clever folks at McSweeney’s have turned to crime. Latin American crime, that is. The 46th issue of the quarterly journal — just hitting bookstores — is a hardcover book containing 13 stories from 10 countries. The contributors range from Carol Bensimon (Brazil) to Alejandro Zambra (Chile), with plenty of blood and mischief in between.

As patrons of the super-hip know, every issue of Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern – founded by Dave Eggers in 1998 — boasts its own unique physical design. Jordan Bass, editor of the San Francisco-based quarterly, says: “Playing around with the form, thinking about how we can stretch our sense of what a book can be, has always been a big part of the journal. Sometimes it’s a bundle of junk mail (No. 17), sometimes it’s a double-spined book (No. 24), and sometimes it’s a full-on Sunday newspaper (No. 33).”

For this issue, the “crime-novel-inspired hardcover design” reflects the 13 dastardly tales inside — most written specifically for this issue, all published here for the first time. Bass wanted to cover as much geography as possible and draw from a wide range of writers, some of whom have never written in this genre before. So he contacted the Brazilian writer Daniel Galera, whom he’d known for several years.

“Galera put together a wish list and went out to round up contributors,” Bass says. “He’s a voracious reader and an experienced translator, with a deep familiarity with the writing coming out of Latin America right now, so we were pretty excited to work with him on this.”

Issue No. 46 also contains some typically McSweeney-esque letters to the editor. Daniel Alarcón writes about the Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona, who became his first hero. Francisco Goldman complains about the “mean-spirited capriciousness” of U.S. immigration agents.

As usual, you never know what you’ll find in these pages.

You can buy this issue for $26 or subscribe to McSweeney’s for $55 a year.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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