Friday 19 May 2017



Featuring new work by Wells Tower, Michael Cera, and Etgar Keret, along with as always a bevy of lesser-known but nonetheless excellent writers investigating everything from mental hospitals to sentient mists, and possibly some kind of poster, Issue 30 warrants every ounce of attention and industry you'll give it, even if you are very important and your time is valuable--even if the fate of nations rests on your weary shoulders. You should still read Issue 30.

I picked this book up recently when browsing in a charity shop – an impulse buy based on one contributing author who I’d heard of but not yet read – Wells Tower. I have his collection of short stories – Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned to read at some point.

This quarterly edition – issue 30 from 2009 features 11 stories from Bill Cotter, Nick Ekkizogloy, Kevin Moffett, Etgar Keret, Shelly Oria, Michael Cera, Carson Mell, Matei Visniec, J. Malcolm Garcia, Catherine Bussinger and Wells Tower.  

Like any collection it's a mixed bag and there were some stories I liked a lot more than others.

Michael Cera's Pinecone was the pick of the bunch..... a fading actor, some fast food, an unwelcome critique on a previous film from the guys n gals at the burger joint - savagely funny and not just a little sad at the same time.

Wells Tower - Retreat... a hunting trip and some sibling rivalry....enjoyable to the last bite!

Bill Cotter - Pfaff II - confinement/containment in a psychiatric hospital, a low-key burgeoning relationship and an escape attempt.

Nick Ekkizogloy - Stowaways - work colleagues and banter

Kevin Moffett - Further Interpretation of Real-Life Events - a pissing contest between a son who writes and his newly retired father who starts to write and has a greater degree of success than his off-spring. 

Etgar Keret - Bad Karma - an insurance salesman who can't stop selling policies after surviving a man landing on his head after jumping from an 11th floor window. An okay story.

Shelly Oria - The Beginning of a Plan - a woman can stop the world with some funky power she possesses and her man wants to use this to their advantage, weird for weird's sake, not sure I understood what the point was here.

Carson Mella - Diamond Aces - a son and his father go on a road-trip and the younger man discovers his father's an adviser to strip-club joints. I liked this one.

Matei Visniec - Madness - plague after plague, first butterflies, then snails, then animal rain - very short, very bizarre.

J. Malcolm Garcia - Cuts - about a manager of a shelter that is suffering from never-ending cutbacks and how to juggle staff and decide who to cut. Entertaining enough.

Catherine Bussinger - Foothill Boulevard - a house renovation, a white girl in the wrong neighbourhood. Frustrating and sad - everything she builds get destroyed, obvious and predictable from an outsider's perspective.

I quite liked the collection overall and reading them one a day during the month didn't divert me from some longer books I was trying to read. There are some small thumb-sized sketches which are simple and appear on every page, accompanying the text. I liked these.

Wells Tower's story collection will be enjoyed at some point and I might look up Michael Cera online to see if he has anything else available - short or long.

I'll keep an eye out for any more copies of McSweeney's Quarterly that I might cross paths with, but won't be seeking them out. I have a few books from the editor - Dave Eggers on the stacks that I'm going to read at some point. Zeitoun is one I've been meaning to read for a few years.

4 from 5

Read in April, 2017
Published - 2009
Page count - 204
Source - purchased copy, secondhand
Format - trade paperback    


  1. Sounds like an interesting collection, Col. As you say, some stories are usually better than others in any group. Still, this one sounds good. And the Cera does sound intriguing...

    1. It was rewarding and an interesting read outside of my usual genre, so like the song says - NO REGRETS!

  2. I've heard of McSweeney's, and seen stuff from it, without ever handling an actual copy. Some of those contents sound good. Is there an actor called Michael Cera, is it him?

    1. Well you forced me to look Michael Cera up. I previously said I was going to but hadn't. Yes, I think it's the one and the same. There's a bit of an author bio in the book which gives his birthplace the same as the actor dude. And with the story content, it all fits.

  3. This does sound good but I have too, too many books of short stories on the shelves. I have learned to love short stories, but then of course I go overboard buying more and more short story books.

    1. If it hadn't had a Wells Tower story in it I would have browsed it and put it back. I did enjoy a fair few of the other stories, but I might well have been better off reading a collection I already owned.