Normally, any journal which contains a T.C. Boyle novella would get quick mention on this blog, but McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #19 is more than just a bunch of bound pages containing a collection of stories. Packaged in what looks like a cigar box are artifacts and memorabilia (pictured above) from bygone wars, stuff that will make you realize that we've all been there, wherever there is, before. According to the McSweeney's site, here's what you get in this box:
Our first issue of 2006 turns toward earlier and equally uncertain years, traveling back by way of pamphlets, info-cards, and letters addressing bygone conflicts and still-constant concerns. Expect, among other recovered works, carefree strategies for insurgencies in Nicaragua, astrological advice for the Nixon/Agnew campaigner, sanguine guidance for the soldier stationed in the Middle East at mid-century, and commonsense reinforcement for the doughboy drifting toward a gonorrhea infection.
My favorite of these pamphlets has to be "Fallout Protection: What to Know and Do About Nuclear Attack" which cautions, "These are somber subjects, and they presuppose a catastrophe which can be made very unlikely by wise and positive policies, pursued by imagination and faith." Uh oh. No problem, though, because they also sent along a wallet card containing air raid instructions. These will go great with my fallout shelter, pending plan approval and the 2006 midterm elections.
But really, even if useful, this is all just clever packaging for an issue that contains that Boyle novella and pieces from Christopher Howard, Adam Golaski, Brendan Connell, and Sean Casey. Because I'm in a good mood, still alive, and want to give back a little something to all of you who come here day after day, here are the first few hilarious paragraphs of Casey's "The First Chapter":
Months before my birth my parents fucked each other. Before I learned this I never thought my life resulted from anything. I was created but untouched by creation. I was an uncaused cause.
When I found out fucking was involved, that I was like everyone else, and that it was Pierce and Pop who did it, I filled with joy and curiosity. Reveling in their intimacy gave me pleasure. Their act lowered me to the ground, taught me I'm no different. Despite what remarkable things separate me from you--the many thousand ritual deaths, for starters--I'm standard issue Homo sapiens and that's all right with me. I'm a man whose toenails, when clipped, smell of the same bouquet as anyone else's. The world said, "Hey man, smell this." What relief I found in that scent!