Adam Reger | Freelance Writer

Pittsburgh-based freelance writer

Tag: McSweeney’s

The Occasional Review, Volume I, Issue 1

An interesting thing about online literary magazines is that there’s no significant difference between a link to a certain short story or poem in the table of contents and a link from Twitter, or a blog, or the author’s home page—you click the link, you go there. I’ve always thought it would be cool to “edit” a “journal” from all the other journals. I envisioned giving my “journal” a distinctive color scheme, a signature font, etc.

Well, I never got around to doing all that. But I did collect a number of pieces I quite admired. So in the spirit of sharing, and pursuing goals no matter how half-assedly, I give you The Occasional Review, Volume I, Issue 1.


“A Good Deuce” by Jodi Angel

“Fairytale of New York: The story behind the Pogues’ classic Christmas anthem” by Dorian Lynskey

“2 Good 2 Be 4Gotten: An Oral History of Freaks and Geeksby Robert Lloyd

“How to Hack Chipotle” by William Hudson

Steve Albini integrates the history of music fads into his hate for Cher’s ‘Believe'” by Marah Eakin

Book Shopping with the Best-Read Man in America” by John Lingan

“The Forgotten Actress as Isadora Duncan in Russia” by Bridget Lowe

“Why white critics’ fear of engaging Tyler Perry is stifling honest debate” by Joshua Alston

“Confessions of a New Coffee Drinker” by John Friedman

“Haircut” by with Thousands of Internet Commenters

The great Teddy Wayne

has cracked The New Yorker‘s “Shouts & Murmurs” section. Why great? The man is a beast. See here for the exhaustive list, but do especially peep “Saved by the Bell: The Grad School Years” (dear to my heart), “Your Best Friend in a Romantic Comedy Is Always There for You,” and my most favorite of all, “Ashton Kutcher Fan Fiction: ‘The Middle School Dance’ by Melissa Bell, Age 13” (also in video form here, though I think seeing someone perform it makes it less funny; this girl is not quite who I pictured in my head).

Wayne’s debut novel, Kapitoil, recently came out. I have not yet read it, though every time I remember it exists, I ask myself, “Why haven’t I read it yet?” My friend and noble roommate, Salvatore Pane, reviewed the book for BOMB and had nothing but good things to say about it.

Also, as an aside, the fact that Teddy Wayne produced all this screamingly funny stuff for McSweeney’s website and now has this (still funny but decidedly) tamer piece in The New Yorker reminds me of this article in The Onion, the upshot of which is that pitcher Mike Mussina has no problem getting his satirical pieces into “Shouts & Murmurs” but finds McSweeney’s a tough nut to crack.

Jack Pendarvis & John Brandon Podcast

One of my most favoritest of contemporary writers, Jack Pendarvis, reads here at an Oxford, MS bookstore with the writer John Brandon (who seems poised for big success with his second novel, Citrus County, from McSweeney’s). I liked, but did not love, Brandon’s first novel, Arkansas, also from McSweeney’s. (A compendium of info on that book is here. They published a couple excerpts, but I’m unable to locate those on the website.) However, I loved, not liked, Brandon’s prose, so I may well check out Citrus County.

Jack Pendarvis cracks me up, whether I’m reading his “blog” or one of his story collections (Your Body Is Changing and The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure), or his novel, Awesome. (One of my great accomplishments during graduate school was, while fiction editor of the grad-student lit mag, Hot Metal Bridge, to solicit a selection from Awesome. Mr. Pendarvis was gracious enough to give us an excellent section of the book, and was a pretty darn nice guy to correspond with.) He is pretty funny here, reading from a column he writes for The Believer. It kind of bummed me out to hear him slated as the opening act, but I guess what with John Brandon’s being something of a rising star, that status may now be appropriate.

The Brandon reading is pretty excellent, too. After hearing what Citrus County is about—it seems to involve a terrible crime, and potentially a love triangle—I am all the more intrigued after listening to this excerpt, which features a middle-school teacher running his students through genealogy presentations and reluctantly planning for his tenure as coach of the school’s girls’ basketball team. If you’re like me, you love it when random stuff comes together.

One sour note about the podcast, as I experienced it: the player really, really sucks. And by that I mean it won’t let you pause or fast-forward (which would be a convenience if you tried to pause the broadcast, realized pushing Play took you all the way back to the beginning, and thought you’d like to skip over the ten minutes you’d already heard).