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Zine Reviews

As if my life wasn't complicated enough these days (buying new house, tidying up old house for selling, packing up old house for moving, a week at Disney World, plus the incessant incoming tide of reading material), I recently received a shipment of zines from Quimby's. Thoughts and impressions:

Burn Collector #6: Al Burian's marvelous recollections of a maladjusted adolesence in Chapel Hill (including his discovery of coffee), plus the mind-bending pleasures of sleep deprivation.

The First Line (Vol. 5, Issue 2): Fascinating premise--the editor provides the opening line (this time: "The view from up here is incredible and makes me feel _____") and writers take the story from there. Fourteen writers contribute to this issue, most notably Daphne M.S. Repass' "The Castle" ("So we strolled--can you see it? A marine strolling through the park on a date. In spite of my pride and bravado, Noriko planned the day and lead us through it. And I willingly followed."); Chris Akeley's "Victory", a hilarious tale of middle-aged suburban rebellion; and one particularly memorable line from Wolf Finkbeiner's "Zero Mountain": "Zero Mountain overlooks Fayetteville. The darkness seems to hide the town's mediocrity; the streetlights give her glamour, and a little mystery, like a farm girl on prom night." (I've already submitted a piece for the Summer 2004 issue.)

Duplex Planet #168: David Greenberger's outstanding, ongoing project of interviewing nursing home residents. Entries range from charming reminiscences of everyday life (Sylvia Harvest: "I go to a department store and I walk from one end of the furniture department to the other. When I get tired I sit down, and then I go to another floor. And then I go to the ladies department, the jewelry department. Sometimes I buy something, and I have a place to go the next day, or two days later, to return it. I am known in every department store in New York City.") to responses to quirky questions (Q: "Why do they name hurricanes but not eclipses?" Rita Butler: "The more gentle things are, the faster they forget about 'em.") Warm, wonderful stuff.

The Minus Times #28: Esteemed lit journal, very indie rock in feel, right down to the faded-typewriter lettering and random pasted-in photos--the literary equivalent of lo-fi. Highlights included the ever-wonderful David Berman and his poem "The Irish Space Program" ("I turned on my heels and headed back, determined to eject that hermit from my thinking spot. Hatred came flipping down my forearms. Any refusal would be met with super-refusal...But upon returning, I found my pastoral arena was depopulated once again. I took a seat and turned an ear to the birds inside the sky. So only ten bad minutes had been appended to my life.") and Brent Van Daley's addiction narrative "Thin Is In" ("I saw Nick digging through an ashtray. His sunken eyes burned like matchsticks, his oily hair forever pushed back. There were two open sores between his middle and index fingers; his habit of nodding off with a lit cigarette. Unmasked, his face and the mask were the same. There was nothing to say. Chasing the dragon; I thought it was understood, the trick is not to catch it.").

Philadelphia Independent (August 2003): Curious alternative monthly which combines sharply-observed news (re former California governor Gray Davis: "He has the face of a very unassuming greyhound, does best with people who have already paid $1,000 a plate, and endeavors to be nothing more than the lesser of all evils. Davis possesses the curious combination of being completely introverted, while at the same time appearing to lack any sort of inner life."), personal essay (Rebecca Dalzell's "Twenty Years With Rita: The Babysitter Who Taught Me To Curse"), satire (Lord Whimsy's social-decorum primer: "It is always better to watch a game of croquet than to participate in one. Indeed, one may easily amuse one's self as a spectator by providing slurred, ribald color commentary--preferably within earshot of one's younger relations--whilst sipping one's fourth whiskey sour and quietly contemplating the atrocious arrangements of the host's flowerbed."), intriguing novel excerpts by Bryan Christy and Clark Roth, and underground comics. And it all comes in a massive newspaper broadsheet format--two inches wider than the usual--which makes reading on a cramped train tricky. A thouroughly enjoyable steal, for the price of just one buck.

May 7, 2004 in Zines | Permalink


Ah, zines. Have you checked out the Cometbus Omnibus yet? It's a little much--I think I prefer the individual issues--but it's nice to be able to see where that dinosaur has come from.

Posted by: Adam Robinson at May 9, 2004 3:25:13 AM

Haven't ever read Cometbus--kind of new to the zine phenomenon, other than the late, lamented Beer Frame--but I'll have to check it out on your recommendation.

Posted by: Pete at May 9, 2004 8:27:48 AM