The McSweeney’s Archive is open for business June 17, 2014 – Posted in: book design, Content, In the Stacks, Special Collections


Mcsweeney's unpacking

Dave Eggers launched Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern from his Brooklyn apartment in 1998. When the the McSweeney’s archive was acquired by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas a mere 15 years later the McSweeney’s community had become one of the seminal hubs of literary culture in the  21st century.

In addition to the highest quality writing each publication conveys a deep appreciation for design and craft making their publications instantly recognizable and consistently appealing.

The archive documents the “evolution of a startup quarterly literary journal into a highly influential small publishing house and creator of several serials, including Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and the Believer, and a growing catalog of titles under its many book imprints.”

Along with publishing A- list writers like T. C. Boyle, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, William T. Vollmann, Sarah Vowell, and David Foster Wallace, McSweeneys has also remained focused on unpublished and emerging writers and artists.

Here are a few gems from the archive:
Mcsweeney's Dave Eggers's and Spike Jonze's screenplay, The Wild Things

Fur samples for novelization of Dave Eggers’s and Spike Jonze’s screenplay, “The Wild Things,” based on Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Mcsweeney's DFW believer card

Believer magazine subscription card filled out by David Foster Wallace.

Mcsweeney's Lawrence Krauser's novel

Hand-illustrated cover of Lawrence Krauser’s novel Lemon.   “Over a period of about three months, for about three hours a day, Krauser drew unique doodles on 9,812 Lemon dust jackets, making each copy a unique, one-of-a-kind original. Krauser didn’t quite make it through the 10,000 print run, but illustrated an additional 1,000 covers for the Dutch translation, for a grand total of 10,812 unique books.”

Mcsweeney's promotional postcard for Lisa Brown's Baby mix me a drink

Back of promotional postcard for Lisa Brown’s “Baby mix me a drink.”

Mcsweeney's Comb samples for McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Issue 16 (May 2005)


McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Issue 16 (May 2005)

Comb samples and final product. McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Issue 16 (May 2005).


Complete holdings here:  McSweeney’s: An Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Center.

All photos by Pete Smith.

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