Cracking Eggers

illustration by Thomas Fluharty

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Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Attempt #6
Edited by Dave Eggers
McSweeney's, 206 pp., $25

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But even though his curatorial persona can be overwhelming, Eggers is the best and rarest kind of ironist: the kind who uses inappropriate tone to spice up his natural curiosity and conviction, rather than to mask their absence. McSweeney's #6 begins with Eggers's story of his discovery that the actual Timothy McSweeney is a mentally ill artist related to one of his interns; at the end, he writes, "We respectfully dedicate this and all issues to the real Timothy, and nod our heads in restless kinship with him, and wish him comfort and joy." That head-nodding bit is barefacedly over-the-top, but the joke is that it's not the reverse of what he actually means. In a situation like this, there's no ordinary way to express compassion that isn't a cliché, so Eggers's overemphasis is just another way to avoid the insincerity of received ideas. It's hard to fault him for editing his magazine in the same spirit.

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