The Thousands, the fable

31Aug09

Daniel Alarcón wrote a fable called The Thousands. It was published in McSweeney’s 28. For those who aren’t readers of random literary journals, McSweeney’s is a literary journal founded by writer Dave Eggers. It’s kind of a quirky literary journal for hipsters, and I mean that in a good way. McSweeney’s is the only literary journal I read.

McSweeney’s 28 arrived at my doorstep, I felt a bit jipped. Instead of a couple hundred pages of literary awesomeness, this issue was made up of 8 tiny books of 16 pages each and full of illustrations. Turns out, it wasn’t really fair of me to say that I expected a certain page count for my money. This issue particular of McSweeney’s is now one of my all time favorites. Why?

Pretty much entirely because of The Thousands (not that the rest of the issue was bad, I just particularly love this story). Alarcón’s fable is about a group that takes over abandoned lands outside of a large city using discarded materials. It’s beautiful and if you can find a copy, you should read it. At first, I was reminded of Swoon’s Swimming Cities project.

Then I had to come up with a name for this exhibition I knew I was curating. A few people suggested that I try to come up with a name like The Young British Artists or Beautiful Losers. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out the name Beautiful Losers was also stolen from a book while the curator was in a bit of a panic searching for a title. A friend suggested that I look at books for inspiration. I had The Thousands just sitting on my desk, and after rereading the story, my exhibition’s name was obvious.

So thanks to Daniel Alarcón for writing such an amazing story.

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