This issue comes in the form of a "Siamese Twin" book jacket in which two separate books share the same back cover (can't visualize it? well then, you'll have to come in and see it for yourself). Stories in the first of the "twins" include: "How to Make Millions in the Oil Market," by Chritopher Howard, "Bored to Death," by Jonathan Ames, "The Death of Nick Carter," by Philippe Soupault -- which was originally written in French in 1926 and was only translated this year by Robin Walz -- and several others. The special highlight, and the entire contents of the second twin is a symposium entitled, "Come Home, Donald Barthelme," which is edited and curated by Justin Taylor, starts off with his introduction "for the belated and immediate beatification of Donald Barthelme," includes a host of participants among whom are Ann Beattie, Robert Coover, and includes two uncollected and long out of print Barthelme stories.
Well, what do you know? This time around, McSweeney's is a plain old book, containing a nice and neat ten tales by writers known -- such as Chris Bachelder, Ann Beattie and Roddy Doyle -- and, at least to us, unknown -- such as Clancy Martin, Christopher Stokes and Wells Tower. Well, upon closer inspection, we notice that the cover folds out into a gigantic poster on one side, while on the other is a brain scrambling piece that involves a complicated division of two-dimensional space that is too elaborate to elaborate on here. And, oh wait, what have we here attached to the inside back cover? It's a special "trial-size edition" of Comedy by Numbers, a "new manual (that) makes the secrets of comedy accessible..." It is to laugh.
This is one of the craziest designs yet -- a sort of cloth covered fold-out folio in which the contents are then inserted. You'll have to see it for yourself to understand. Here's what McSweeney's has to say: "Issue 16 presents new stories from McSweeney's regulars like Roddy Doyle and Denis Johnson, and exploits a never-before-seen tripartite format to bring you a hilarious Ann Beattie novella and a special deck-of-cards story from Robert Coover, one of the great masters of American experimental fiction. This issue uses more cloth than any issue to date. Also, it comes with a comb."