McSweeney’s and Radiotopia from PRX Present “McSweeney’s 64: The Audio Issue,” Joining Sound and Print for a New Issue of the Iconic Literary Journal
“The Audio Issue” is produced by McSweeney’s Editor Claire Boyle, PRX and Radiotopia’s Vice President of Editorial Julie Shapiro, Radiotopia’s Senior Director of Content Audrey Mardavich, and Andrew Leland of “The Organist,” featuring contributions from writers, audio creators and composers, illustrators, and playwrights
“McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern 64: The Audio Issue” is one of the most elaborate issues the iconic literary journal has ever attempted. Combining art, fiction, a slew of unclassifiable print objects in a custom box, and beautifully-produced audio, “McSweeney’s 64” is a riotous exploration of audio-visual storytelling. “The Audio Issue” is co-produced with Radiotopia from PRX, a home to extraordinary artist-owned, independent podcasts.
“The Audio Issue” from McSweeney’s and Radiotopia is available now, here.
The “Audio Issue” box is chock-full of books, booklets, posters, pamphlets, a lantern with an 8-foot-long scroll, a keychain, a fictional toy company catalog, and more — each of which has an audio component that lives on a special “Audio Issue” website. Each piece establishes its own relationship between audio and print — the contributor’s unique experiment in weaving the mediums and creating a layered, multi-modal experience. Some of the printed matter sets the piece up and sends you off to the audio; some of the pieces move back and forth between audio and printed matter; for some, you experience both simultaneously.
The “Audio Issue” is particularly focused on ideas of access and augmentation: how do stories shift as they move across mediums? How does this relate to the many forms of reading (with the eyes, the ears, the hands, through assistive technology)? For that reason, McSweeney’s has committed to making this issue fully accessible. In addition to the physical issue, we’re also producing a Descriptive Transcript, which will include transcripts of all audio, and audio descriptions of all text and images. As a result, each of the issue’s components will be available in multiple forms, to be experienced through a variety of sensory organs and accessibility tools.
The issue’s contributors include fiction writers, audio producers, composers, illustrators, and playwrights. Amongst the issue’s contributions are Pulitzer Prize finalist Kate Soper with an interactive piece about a transhumanist software; DeafBlind poet John Lee Clark on the limits of accessibility; Claudia Dey, Jason Reynolds, Renee Gladman, Sharon Mashihi, and more taking us on audio tours of our own homes; Aliya Pabani, with a radio drama whose plot is complicated by a 24 x 30" poster featuring art by Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva; Katie Booth disproving the myth that the Deaf experience is one of silence; Yvette Jackson, with an Afrofuturist radio opera; Ian Chillag of Radiotopia’s “Everything Is Alive”, with an absurdist, interactive phone tree for a toy manufacturers’ support line; James T. Green, Sayre Quevedo, Catherine Lacey, and Sean Cole of “This American Life” with voicemail dispatches to the editor, and more.
Pieces are both fiction and nonfiction; some lean heavier on audio, some heavier on text. They’re bizarre, surreal, heartfelt, personal, informative, and interactive.
The issue was produced as a collaboration between McSweeney’s Editor Claire Boyle, PRX and Radiotopia’s Vice President of Editorial Julie Shapiro, Radiotopia’s Senior Director of Content Audrey Mardavich, and “Audio Issue” senior producer Andrew Leland (co-producer and host of “The Organist”).
McSweeney’s is a small San Francisco nonprofit publisher with a worldwide reach. We create elegant books and magazines with an emphasis on bold voices, untold stories, and original art. McSweeney’s publishes an award-winning quarterly literary journal, a daily humor website, beloved children’s magazine “Illustoria,” and an intrepid and varied list of books each year. www.mcsweeneys.net
About Radiotopia from PRX
Radiotopia from PRX is a curated network of independent, listener-supported, and artist-owned podcasts. In 2017, Radiotopia was named one of the top 10 most innovative companies by “Fast Company.” Podcasts in the network have received recognition from the Peabody Awards, Alfred L. duPont-Columbia Awards, the Pulitzer Prizes, and from the Third Coast International Audio Festival.