McSweeney’s Furry Journal

McSweeney’s Furry Journal

McSweeney’s Books (2010)
96 pages; $9

Reviewed by MH Rowe

On our long human journey into the dim oblivion of personal emergency, planetary vaporization, and eventual stellar death, there are innumerable accessories available to help us on our way, and one of them is a blank journal of ninety-six unlined pages, hardcovered and bound with fake fur. To make this particular accessory even easier to obtain, the publisher, McSweeney’s, has discounted the journal on their website, bringing the price down from a burdensome $12 to an altogether agreeable $9.

But make sure your Furry Journal really is a blank journal. The copy I was given features several pages near the back that are filled with careful notes written in pencil. These notes were not made by the publisher—or so I believe—but by some person or persons unknown. Perhaps it is all some sort of mistake. Although I am unsure about the details of the prior history of this particular copy of Furry Journal (it was given to me by my editor, who may have the answers we seek),[1] I am forced to admit that this blank book has already been used or owned by someone else, making it a short leap of induction to the fact that no book is really new, since all books have been handled by numerous humans whose lives and experiences are inherently valuable and worth a good, long scribble in a furry book.

Now it may sound as though these notes have caused me some distress. In fact, I might be a little angry that my blank journal isn’t quite that blank. [2] Yet, as the carefully penciled notes near the back of my supposedly blank journal remark, “slow down and try to write something nice.”[3] Seriously, it says that.[4]

So. The journal is a very nice size. It is larger than those small Moleskine® notebooks. I would say it’s the size of a regular book, albeit on the smaller side. If you own a copy of Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams in hardcover, Furry Journal feels—when you’re holding it in your hand—almost exactly like that, at least in terms of weight and size. However, due to its being covered in fake fur, there is also a sense in which it feels nothing like Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, which, to my knowledge, has never been released in any edition bound with fake fur that feels pleasant when drawn across one’s cheek or the back of one’s hand. Those are the two places I rubbed Furry Journal, for what it’s worth.

The pages of Furry Journal are as line-free as can be, and there are ninety-six of them. Feel free to count. I would warn you not to hold out for any surprises but, as I’ve already mentioned, my copy of Furry Journal had already been used by the time it reached my sweaty little hands. I’m just kidding. My hands are actually pretty big.

In the world of books that are covered in imitation fur, Furry Journal is preceded by Dave Eggers’s much-lauded The Wild Things (also published by McSweeney’s, suggesting that the publisher had an excessive quantity of fake fur it needed to quickly dispose of). According to the publisher’s website, “The Furry Journal is exactly that: a blank hardcover book, bound in imitation fur.” In case you missed anything thus far, that should bring you up to speed. We will now enter the portion of this review that was reserved ahead of time for my favorite joke:

Two muffins are in an oven.

One muffin turns to the other and says, “Jeez, it’s hot in here.”

The other muffin screams and says, “Talking muffin!”

MH Rowe’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spork, Monkeybicycle, DIAGRAM, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, ILK, and Jellyfish. He is running around a park in southern Minneapolis. 


  1. Upon diligent recollecting, I conclude that long enough before assigning this review to Mike for me to have forgotten, my wife used the Furry Journal to take notes in one of her psychology classes. Ed. ↩

  2. My bad, dude. I feel you are owed a blank Furry Journal by me. I will get on that. Ed. ↩

  3. Seriously, I wrote that? Ed.’s wife. ↩

  4. She is a counselor. Ed.  ↩