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McSweeney's

11 articles
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An Investigation Into Xinjiang’s Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils

Tracking a rumored gerbil infestation through China’s bureaucracy.

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The Dance Contest [Excerpt]

Intrigues within a Thai prison.

"'My friends,' he says, 'I hope all of you are having a mellow and productive day. Perhaps you feel surprised that I say "friends." Well, you deserve to be called by that word. Three months ago, I came to you seeking assistance with several problems. Inmates doing bodily harm to each other was a problem. Drug casualties were a problem. Another problem was videos filmed on contraband phones, videos which referenced conduct that is unbecoming to you and unbecoming to this institution. One more problem was some chattering birds who told false stories to the BBC about conditions in our facility. Three months ago, I asked for your help with these problems, and there has been no trouble since.'"

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The Comma From Which My Heart Hangs

A lesson from a spurned grammarian.

"With the aid of the comma, statements are united, points of view are broadened, and the complexities of reality are more accurately rendered. Here, on the other hand, are examples of less elegant sentences: You're just too difficult to love. ... I've met someone else."

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Artisanal Baby Naming

An artist of baby names explores the meticulous details that go into selecting the perfect moniker.

"Not all prospective parents are comfortable with me watching them have intercourse and that’s fine if you want to cut corners on the name your baby will carry for the rest of her life. The parents who allow it are sophisticated enough to understand that there’s no better way for me to know a child’s essence than to be there for the erotic act from which that child is created. But if you’re too modest and you’d prefer that I name your baby with one hand tied behind my back, so be it. You can make a video recording of the conception and send it to me."

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The Republic of Marfa

A history of a small Texas town deep in the Chihuahuan desert:

The isolation is such that if you laid out the islands of the Hawaiian archipelago, and the deep ocean channels that separate them, on the road between Marfa and the East Texas of strip shopping and George Bush Jr., you’d still have 100 miles of blank highway stretching away in front of you.

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Rsvp

A story about love letters and failed connections, from Adam Levin's new collection, Hot Pink.

"The way I heard it, this guy, Donald, who was pathologically shy, wrote the world’s greatest love letter—four lines long, a mere seventy words—to a girl called Janet, with whom he’d made slightly longer than average eye contact on at least three separate occasions. "

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$5 Chess Game, Best-of-Three, Zuccotti Park

On playing chess and waiting to get arrested.

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Bianca, the Toronto Escort with a Day Job: Column #7

Supply and demand paid-sex economics, ‘hobbyist’ internet message boards, and the power of reviews.

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Wells Fargo, You Never Knew...

A just-barred Pakistani-American attorney attempts to save a young family’s home from foreclosure and glimpses the contradiction-rich bureaucracy that has emerged in response to the housing crisis.