Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.

The Thousands

I’ve done some writing today based on The Book and The Girl, and it’s proving quite useful. Teaching obligations meant I didn’t get to spend the full day on it as I would’ve liked, but feel like it’s something worth pursuing.

Just to test the waters, am picking another fable from McSweeney’s 28 and seeing if it can give me anything.

The Thousands, by Daniel Alarcón, has a collective third-person narrative voice, apparently standing for ‘The Thousands’. Immediately, this is like McSweeney’s. Their editorial pages use a collective ‘we’, though the effect of this is probably different. The fable seems to actually be narrated by a collective, to represent everyone, whereas the McSweeney’s voice is more of a pretense at collectiveness, and is more masking an individual voice with a personification of the journal, of its McSweeney’sness.

There is some analogue with the McSweeney’s project in the narrative, in the thousands of people putting together a new city from the scraps of the old. McSweeney’s was originally a journal of orphaned literature. Things that were rejected elsewhere. And though that soon changed, when people started to write specifically for them, it is still a home for things that don’t fit elsewhere. The message of The Thousands seems to be on this line, too.

What else? The defiance of the thousands, their rejection by the city, but then eventually the city/government give in and let them live in peace. Reading McSweeney’s subculturally, as representing a minority but in such a way that it becomes powerful, while still retaining its characteristics that made it special as a minority.

Good.

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