Monday, March 12, 2007

Do You Know McSweeney's?

About ten years ago, Dave Eggers published A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It kind of reviews itself, doesn't it. It was his breakout book, a memoir with fictional elements about how he struggled to raise his younger brother after their parents died suddenly. For that work, he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in literature.
Eggers is the founder of an eclectic and literate online Web magazine, McSweeney's, which is a showcase for some of the best and funniest writers around. It's an absurdist collection of daily postings on the arcane, and while it's funny, it's not The Onion kind of funny.
More importantly, Dave founded McSweeney's as an independent publishing house. They've put out books such as What is the What, The Future Dictionary of America, The Polysyllabic Spree, and How We Are Hungry.

Writing with his brother, Christopher, Dave also has produced three hilarious books under the rubric of "The Haggis-on-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance" as Dr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey. Here's the author bio from the McSweeney's site:

Dr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey has seventeen degrees from eighteen institutions of higher learning. She is a world-renowed and much-feared expert on just about everything. With her husband Benny, she has traveled the world over, and has learned about all aspects of life, including outer space and food, first-hand. She has written or will soon write over 147 books.

Those books are:

Giraffes? Giraffes! - in which we learn that those supposedly African beasts have, in fact, been living in Terre Haute (their site selection committee insisted they could only live somewhere where the ZIP Code began with 4780) after abandoning Hotlanta. They also like iced oatmeal cookies!

Your Disgusting Head: The Darkest, Most Offensive - and Moist - Secrets of Your Ears, Mouth, and Nose - "Humorous misinformation about the human head, including unappetizing untruths about which teeth do not bite, the color of the tongue, and the state of the human mind."

and Animals of the Ocean, in Particular the Giant Squid - "advances many heretofore unexplored discoveries and opinions, including squid dating dos and don'ts, why squid are not at all able to watch television in black and white, the ways in which people who don't know any better might think fish are not animals, the long-term effects of salt water on musical theater, and also the adventure of Gunther."

So why do I mention this?

Because you'll bust a gut over this next set.

Like most of us, you probably are overscheduled and stressed out, unable to accomplish in a day all that needs to be done. Lisa Brown offers the solution: Babies! That's right. They're not doing anything, anyway.

Packaged as delightful board books that will enrapture children, the concept for these humor titles is, obviously, self-explanatory. Baby, Fix My Car; Baby, Mix Me a Drink; Baby, Make Me Breakfast; and Baby, Do My Banking.

Here's what the publisher's notes say about the first one:

Are you a parent? Are you tired of driving around in an old wreck of an automobile? Never fear–help is on the way. This book will teach your little ones the ins and outs of basic repair. It's quick, easy, and best of all, much cheaper than your local garage. Thanks, Baby!

Tots will be entranced by the shapes and colors, all the while learning how to do basic car repair. An essential purchase for expectant parents, harried mothers, hungry fathers, and overly involved grandparents.

Don't you know someone who would just crack up to receive one of these as a gift?

Books listed in this posting:
Animals of the Ocean, In Particular the Giant Squid (ISBN 9781932416398) $18 hardcover
Giraffes? Giraffes! (ISBN ) $16.95 (scarce and out of print...this price will climb) hardcover
Your Disgusting Head (ISBN ) $16.95 (scarce and out of print...this price will climb) hardcover
Baby, Make My Breakfast (ISBN 9781932416466) $9 board book
Baby, Fix My Car (ISBN 9781932416565) $6.95 board book
Baby, Mix Me a Drink (ISBN 9781932416459) $6.95 board book
Baby, Do My Banking (ISBN 9781932416558) $9 board book
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (ISBN 9780375725784) $14.95 paperback
The Polysyllabic Spree (ISBN 9781932416244) $14
The Future Dictionary of America (ISBN 9781932416428) $20 hardcover w/CD
How We Are Hungry (ISBN 9781400095568) $13.95 paperback
What is the What (ISBN 9781932416640) $26 hardcover

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