Issue 10 is guest-edited by Michael Chabon, and it is dedicated to genre fiction of all types — adventure, thriller, science fiction, and so on. Chabon had the idea, made this all happen, and has pulled together 20 spine-tingling, bone-chilling, heart-racing stories. Here are the last names of this issue’s contributors: Alexie, Bender, Chabon, Chaon, Crichton, Eggers, Ellison, Emshwiller, Fowler, Gaiman, Gold, Hornby, Leonard, Link, King, King, Moody, Moorcock, Offutt, Shepard. (Here are the first names: Sherman, Aimee, Michael, Dan, Michael, Dave, Harlan, Carol, Karen, Neil, Glen, Nick, Elmore, Kelly, Stephen, Laurie, Rick, Michael, Chris, Jim.) This book will benefit the 826 Valencia Writing Project, the tutoring center we’ve opened in San Francisco.
Some people have asked us, “What are these big names doing in our beloved McSweeney’s? Have you forgotten your love for the common man, the free-thinking reader, the unpublished writer?” The answer is this: “No.” We have not forgotten that. Michael Chabon, in assembling the issue, sought to bring non-genre writers into that world, and to bring popular genre writers to readers like yourself. These are great writers and great stories, and it all came together like wildfire. Or do we mean like a house on fire? It came together quickly and unexpectedly, and we are very pleased with the results and very grateful to Mr. Chabon and all the contributors.
As the list of contributors grew, we realized that we had a good book on our hands, the kind of book sold at airports or even, if we dared dream, supermarkets. In keeping with the spirit of the pulp novels, it made sense to make the issue available to as many people as possible. But we didn’t have much experience with large numbers, so we weren’t sure how to proceed.
At the same time we were thinking about this, we were gearing up for our first fall schoolyear at 826 Valencia, and we were short of funds. Like most nonprofits in 2002, we had a dry spell in donations and revenue from our pirate-supply store (this is true). Vintage, a great paperback book-publishing company, offered to buy the rights to distribute Issue 10 as a paperback book, and we agreed. They paid this fee directly to 826 Valencia, and these funds kept the learning lab afloat throughout the fall.
There are two slightly different versions of this issue. The first version, which was printed by our favorite Oddi Printing Corp of Reykjavik, is available only to subscribers, and is currently on its way to their homes. The second version is Vintage’s, and is full of the same fantastic stories; it will appear in bookstores (and maybe airports) in late March.
Both versions look different from previous issues of McSweeney’s. In an effort to conform to the look of ‘40s-era pulp magazines and genre collections, we’ve used a two-column format, and some new fonts, and title-page illustrations by the excellent Howard Chaykin. The book is a 500-page paperback; it will not fit in your pocket.
In any case, the important thing to know is this: The unusual aspects of this issue do not indicate a general change, either editorial or financial, in our focus or mission, to the extent that we have either. We are working on Issue 11 at this very moment, and we assure you it will include all of those things you have grown to love: new contributors, a consistent font, a story set at a crafts fair, and a very special, financially-unwise extra feature. It will be great.
(Also keep an eye out for the upcoming Marcel Dzama book, which is not really a book at all; that too will be great. And To Ruhleben — And Back, the newest classic from the Collins Library — great as well. It’s a reissue of a young man’s account of escaping from a German POW camp during WWI, and has been out of print for over fifty years.)