Do you know about McSweeney’s, the publishing house founded by Dave Eggers? I’ve never read any of the books they published (with the exception of the volume of short fiction, pictures and poems that came with a CD by They Might Be Giants), but I enjoy their website—McSweeney’s Internet Tendency—a lot. It’s got a sense of humor that’s alternately British-dry and utterly ridiculous. They’ve also done some really cool things like spend five months to make a “daily” newspaper that ran for one issue.
Anyway, they have an app now.
What is it
It’s a subscription-based delivery system for multimedia. For six bucks you get six months of exclusive content: articles, stories, short films and pictures (called “The Small Chair” section of the app), along with the the free content from their website delivered as well (the “Internet Tendency”).
How does it work?
Whenever the content is updated, you can get a push notification. Then, you just navigate to the material you want to read. Larger stories are broken down into pages, which you swipe to turn. The Internet Tendency is presented as a web page, so you scroll down to read that.
I should note that this is a “subscription” in the truest sense; you don’t get any archival access, you can only read the material that’s delivered after you started subscribing. On the info page, you can tell it how many articles to keep (up to 100), and if you accidentally delete an article, you can restore it.
Is it contagious?
If you enjoy the young, literary-minded, droll tone of McSweeney’s other stuff, this is a great app. While I love the Internet Tendency, the best way I can think to describe the Small Chair stories and articles is that I’ll have more fun discussing the stories with my friends than I got out of actually reading them. The three things I’ve gotten so far have been a short story about a married couple living on a dead, man-made lake, an illustrated story about two people walking in the snow, and a collection of kid’s letters to Michelle Obama.
The Internet Tendency, however, has had a series of very funny articles about attending an amateur Mixed Martial Arts competition, a story told as a series of drunken dinner party riddles, and an air traffic controller trying to get a flight attendant to do an emergency take off. But that’s the stuff you can read for free on your browser.
How much do you need to pay for the best stuff from McSweeney’s? How many literary magazines do you subscribe to? The writing is good, but it’s thoughtful, rather than thrilling. It’s more about the writing than the telling.