Since its inception McSweeney’s — the small, non-profit San Francisco-based publishing house founded by Dave Eggers in 1998 — has had a reputation for publishing ambitious fiction and non-fiction and crafting unusual ways to package their literary journal for its ardent subscribers and supporters. Now McSweeney’s has announced that they will release their first audio-visual issue of “bizarre, surreal, heartfelt, personal, informative, and interactive” stories.
As they explain, McSweeney’s 64 is an “immersive, riotous exploration of audio-visual storytelling” co-produced with Radiotopia from PRX (The Stoop, Song Exploder, Criminal, Ear Hustle, etc.); “a book for your ears or maybe a podcast for your eyes” that includes “nearly a dozen” booklets and books, pamphlets and posters, plus a dossier, a key chain and a “magic lantern eight-foot illustrated scroll.”
“We’ve been dreaming up this Audio Issue for years, working with composers and accessibility experts, writers and keychain manufacturers,” says Claire Boyle, editor of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. “It’s a sprawling experiment in the ways a story can be told. Each piece combines sound, text, and illustration in a new, inventive way.”
Boyle further explains the scope of the issue, which includes: “A monologue from a recently fired man is complicated by a series of comics, exposing new sides to the story. Directions for a software program diverge from the printed manual in crucial moments to reveal a dark, transhumanist agenda. An unhinged children’s toy manufacturer fields your customer service inquiries. Many pieces have an interactive quality, and the reader (and listener) becomes a detective, almost, thrust into the center of these worlds, putting the pieces together.”
Plus, The Audio Issue — which includes Pulitzer Prize finalist and composer Kate Soper; Deafblind poet John Lee Clark; musician and composer Yvette Jackson; podcast creator Ian Chillag (Everything Is Alive), and many more — is particularly focused on ideas of access and augmentation:
“How do stories shift as they move across mediums? How does this relate to the many forms of reading (with the eyes, the ears, the hands, through assistive technology)? For that reason, McSweeney’s has committed to making this issue fully accessible. In addition to the physical issue, we’re also producing a Descriptive Transcript, which will include transcripts of all audio, and audio descriptions of all text and images. As a result, each of the issue’s components will be available in multiple forms, to be experienced through a variety of sensory organs and accessibility tools.”
McSweeney’s is also currently engaged in a fundraising drive for the Book Industry Charity Foundation (BINC). For every subscription purchased by July 31st, they’ll donate $20 to BINC in their mission to help booksellers in their time of financial need. The special issue will be available on September 23rd to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern print subscribers and will also be available for purchase at store.mcsweeneys.net and at bookstores.
Courtesy of McSweeney’s